On this Father's Day, I forgive you.
It is my gift to you after having spent much time pouring over Father's Day card after Father's Day card - helping the kids pick one out for you - and realizing that none of them express anything remotely close to those events that have transpired between us.
We racked our brains to think of the perfect gift for you... but what do you need? What do you want? What would even be meaningful, or enough, to you? Is there anything that would ultimately change you, them, us, for the better? Is there anything that truly fits this Father's Day, for you, at this moment in time?
As I worked through the jaded feelings recollecting all the things that were never said, never done, never offered up on any Mother's Day, birthdays, or holidays in between, I realized that what we both need more than anything is for me to let it go. And forgive.
You are not the perfect Dad. Or husband. I cannot muster up the strength to lie to you, nor am I sure it would do anyone any good. So instead, I will be honest.
I forgive you for the tiny white lies you told when we were dating many years ago - things I never learned the truth about until much, much later - at a time when you told me that it no longer mattered what you said "back then."
I forgive you for never being home long enough to plan a wedding, for raising my hopes up high that maybe in two years... or three years... it would finally work out. That things would coincide with your job and schedules and trips around the globe to plan out one very special day just for us. I forgive you for feeding me the myth that "weddings don't mean anything" and "you're too strong of a woman to need something fairy-talish like that" because in the end, all these years later, for some reason I cannot explain, it does matter.
I forgive you for spending thousands of dollars more on your television than you did on my ring.
I forgive you for being away seven months of the year we were expecting our first baby.
I forgive you for taking a job in a new location, where we knew no one, and then leaving me alone with the children for four months upon our arrival.
I forgive you for all the diapers you didn't change. All the newborn baby nights you slept a good eight hours in another room down the hall. All the prenatal appointments, and lactation consulting, and doctors trips you did not write down, remember, attend, or pay for.
I forgive you for never brushing the kids teeth, or reading them a bedtime story, or getting them a drink of water late at night.
I forgive you for never doing the laundry. For never doing the dishes. For not knowing how to clean a bathroom or scrub a floor or shampoo the carpet or vacuum out the van.
I forgive you for the kids' heartbreak when on the weekend they looked for you in the wee hours of the morning only to breathe out in sighs, "Daddy must be working..."
I forgive you for never being home, or being available, or being awake, when you say I'll have the evening to work out. And then chastising me for never working out...
I forgive you for not knowing how to plan, prep or cook nutritious meals. For being unable to grasp what it means to "eat healthy." Potato chips are not vegetables. The tomatoes in spaghetti sauce do not count. And grabbing fast food on your way home for the kids as a treat is not "every once in a while" when it happens four times a week.
I forgive you for all the times you said you'd do something, and never did. For all the times you said you'd fix something, but never could. For all the times you wouldn't let me hire someone else to do it, or fix it, because it would cost money you said we didn't have...
I forgive you for never really listening. Even when I ask you to. Even when I repeat what is important.
I forgive you for the times your mother has screamed insults at me, and torn apart my spirit bit by bit, while you cower in the corner like a scared puppy dog.
I forgive you for blaming me, and me alone.
I forgive you for your change in admiration. The twinkle in your eye, that with each baby born, each physical sacrifice my own body made, moved to other women on a computer screen. I forgive you for not being able to see that pornography can hurt a marriage.
I forgive you for the loneliness that is so, so much more intense in an unhealthy marriage than it is otherwise being a single mom with the dream that maybe someday... I forgive you for the hope that doesn't often seem to show itself around here.
I forgive you for the days you've promised that today you would take the kids for the whole day... so that I could shower, or relax, or read a book, or talk with a friend, or clean the house, or go on a walk by myself... and then one hour later I'd hear the front door open again, kids piling back in, climbing on top of me, asking what we are going to do because something came up, or you did not plan all that was needed for a full day without Mom... And I forgive you for this happening over, and over, and over again.
I forgive you for the many "family" trips you did not attend. Vacations the kids and I took (and somehow managed to pay for) without your contribution. We missed you on those ventures.
I forgive you for the exhaustion: physically, mentally, emotionally.
I do not know what is to come, and there are those who I am certain say I am a fool for giving you yet another chance. But you are not a violent man. You do not mean to hurt us. In fact, you appear as a pretty typical dad and husband to most looking on. You are an average American father... and maybe for that, I must forgive you too. And let go of those fairy-tale expectations of an equal partner and best friend for life.
So on this Father's Day, as I pick up the toys, do the dishes, scrub that stain, water the plants, and vacuum amidst giddy happy children for what will surely not be the last time, I forgive you. And myself. Please do the best you can at being the greatest parent and partner you can be, and I promise to do the same. Hopefully, we will meet somewhere in the middle, and our kids will know that they are loved just as much every moment, of every day, as they are on this Father's Day with you.
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