My first daughter came when I was 23, my second when I was 26. I was clueless in most things life, and had not even touched the depth of my trauma or wounds. But I sincerely tried to make a marriage work, and through a series of circumstances, we ended up divorced. It was a painful divorce, and we cried together many times, and got irate together many times. I suppose most divorces are like that, and ours made both of us do the growing up we couldn't do together. The stories of our parting belong to him and me alone.
However, my ex remained a pillar of devotion to his children. He didn't seek to punish me through our children or the courts, and it allowed us both to be flexible and make sure we were both able to raise our children as best we could. We made a schedule together, taking into account each person's wishes and wants. He paid child support like clockwork, and I did not use that as a way to take advantage of him. We still got mad and there were still times neither one of us got what we wanted, but I can honestly say my ex really loved his girls and would do anything for them. He often paid for things above and beyond what was expected.
When we divorced, he "stole" my wedding rings. I searched frantically high and low and he lied to me, saying he didn't know where I'd put them because I was always losing things anyway. For three years he lied. Then one day, I received my wedding rings from him along with a note containing a beautifully written apology, not just for the rings, but for the hurt. I apologized too and kept that note for years. I understood why he kept them. Under all that anger was a whole heap of hurting and hoping. Today I realize how very precious it is to have such a moment of healing, and how distant that all seems today.
I can still talk to him as a friend, and a few years ago, when I was going through divorce number 2, he called me to make sure I was ok. He actually called me to make sure I was ok and hear me when I cried/vented.
When I had more children with another man, he became "Davey Dave" and was kind and welcoming to those children, like an uncle.
I never thought he disrespected me as a mother, even when I did things to screw up. We both did things to screw up because we are both human beings. But neither of us tried to destroy the other. Sure, we got mad and hateful but that never completely stuck. We were able to let go and forgive.
I write this out of gratitude. And to all the women out there I've spoken with who complain about an ex not paying child support, deceiving, lying about his income, making everything a fight, dismissing your role as mother, having no clue how not supporting your children is, well, unsupportive of your children. I want you to have a picture of how it can be, to give hope that there are men who understand the importance of mothering and who carry those wonderful male traits of support and encouragement. There are men who will not dare disempower a fellow parent. At the time, I didn't know how lucky I was to have someone who supported me as a person and most importantly as a mother, who was steady in support instead of vitriol. Having had things go the opposite way, I appreciate it now, and as Mother's Day approaches, I want to give a shout out to the man who made me a mother.
So thank you, Dave, for all that you did for our family and for us. I am deeply grateful for the depth of your caring and will always love you. As a result, it is a joy to see how close our girls are to you and how you still delight in supporting them in their lives.