I think of my stepson's actions as his way of saying, look Dad--I'm just like you. I wanted to be like you because it makes me feel closer to you. I packed up my backpack with your spray cans and snuck out the back door in the middle of the cool night air while our family slept peacefully. Just like you used to. It was exciting to climb up on buildings, to spray my name on those pristine, white walls. And when they caught me, I knew. I knew I was in deep trouble. But would you still be there for me, Dad?
And he was. His Dad was still there for him. Of course he would be there. But what us children of divorce sometimes wonder is...does that parent who left us...does he still love me? Sometimes it can be the smallest seed of doubt. I had a mother who, for the most part, kept her opinion of my father to herself. But sometimes, in her extreme frustration, she would say little things. Little things that my siblings probably didn't notice, but I did. Your father lies all the time. I can never believe a word he says.
Your father lies.
Those three words would continually stab me in my heart whenever I thought of my father, and the words he said to me. Mija, I have to work this weekend. Or mija, I'm going out of town so I won't be able to make it. And of course, he could be busy...or working...or going out of town. But in my mind, I wonder. He is probably lying. It's awful, I know. It's something I've tried to conquer for the last 30 years of my life.
So when I contemplate my stepson, I think of all that he has been told of his father. He loves his other family more than you. He doesn't love you. He doesn't have time for you. He never gives us any money. He hasn't called so he must have forgotten about you. And for the life of me, I wonder, how can he believe that? He knows how much his father loves him. He must know the lengths his father has gone to be in his life.
But sometimes it's the doubting voice that is louder.
Sometimes it hurts to be a parent. Even more so when your hands have been tied by the other parent. Forcefully tied, to the point where the rope is cutting off your circulation and it begins to rub your skin raw and bloody. When you have resigned yourself to the fact that you can only do so much for a child that has been fought over for the past sixteen years of his life. There is a wound so deep, so raw and tender...that I don't know if it can ever heal. By our hands, anyway. But I know that His hands can heal us all.
So he was here and lived with us for almost three months. It wasn't easy. But finally, to be in his life...it was a really good thing. I didn't blog about it because I wanted to respect my husband's privacy. But now that he is gone, swooped up once again by his mother who thinks she is doing the right thing by him, all there are reminders of him. His school books. His empty closet. His cologne. His ipod. His pimple pads.
And it feels like a death.
It's like we are in mourning. That's the best way I can describe it. Some of the chil'rens can talk lightly about him, some of them can't. My husband cannot. It still hurts too much. To finally have his son here, to be a part of his everyday life...and then to have him get into trouble--on our watch, no less--it's been one of the hardest things we've had to face. No one wants to see their child make poor choices. But I can't help but feel like we're part of the reason why he's making these poor choices...because he's crying out that he's hurt.
Two more years until he's eighteen. Two more years until he's eighteen. I say that like it's a mantra.
For now, we go back to calling and hoping he answers. We go back to driving to his home which is eighty miles away, hoping he is home and wants to see us. Then I look to the book of Isaiah, which says but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
And that's all I can do.