It's not ANNOYING, it's HAPPY

A few months ago, at parent-teacher conferences, I was talking to Max’s teacher, Ms. Sue. Toward the end of the discussion, she leaned in toward me, worried.

“At the end of April…I don’t know if you noticed on the show and tell topics list…we’re going to be talking about fathers. It’s just what I’ve always done. We talk about our mothers one week, the fathers the next week.” I nodded, and she went on. “I never…I’m sorry, I’ve never had a situation like this in my class. I mean, I’ve had divorced families, but not ones with no contact with the dad whatsoever. Max is welcome to talk about his grandfather or whoever he wants to…I’m just sorry if it causes any trouble for him.” I shrugged.

“You know, at first, I wanted to erase any evidence of dads anywhere. I got rid of the books we had about fathers, I turned off TV shows that focused on father/son relationships. I wanted it all to go away, rather than hurt my sons. But…” I paused, looking for the right words, “…fathers exist. And even if the contrast hurts, I want my sons to know that GOOD fathers exist. That they’re important. Hopefully, Max will be a father someday. I want him to know what that means.”

She relaxed, and we both agreed that Max is doing, on the whole, very well. I left feeling such joy at how far we’ve come. Look how strong we are, my boys and I. Show and tell about fathers? Bring it on!

The night before the fabled father show and tell, Max and I talked about what he wanted to talk about. He figured he’d talk about his Appa, who is, after all, his grandFATHER. But then this morning Max mused that he’d like to have a picture of his dad to take to school too.



I took him upstairs, to his room, and pulled a picture out of his sock drawer. He’d forgotten it was there, a snapshot of him and his dad, sweeping him high in the air for a hug. They were dancing. Max was about two and a half, and his dad’s face is creased with a wide, delighted grin. Max’s arm is slung around his dad’s neck, and he looks like he owns the world, in that moment.

I was unprepared for how taken aback I was by that picture. I forget. I forget he was that man, once. That he loved them so much.

Once upon a time.

Max stared at the picture silently.

“I think about him a lot. I wonder things about him.”

“Is there anything you want to ask me?”

“I don’t know.” He paused. “Why did he leave?”


I sat down and pulled Max onto my lap, and pondered the question. How do I answer that? Where is the correct balance of truth and compassion? Images flitted through my head, of the events that built the rage and pain to a point that this man who fathered him could walk away so completely. I mentally leafed through memories that Max doesn’t need to carry. So much he doesn’t need to know.

So much he does need to know.

I took a deep breath.

“Honey, do you know what an addiction is?”

For a few minutes we talked about brokenness and loss. About how certain choices can rob you of the ability to hold onto what matters most. About how if his dad were thinking straight, there’s nowhere else he’d rather be than with his sons.

But it was time to go to school, and after a few minutes I ushered him out the door, clutching his file of pictures. I watched him climb into the van, and turned to say good bye to my mom.

“Are you ok?” she asked.

In answer I put my head down on her shoulder and wept. Again.

We ARE so much stronger, my boys and I. We are brave and happy and solid.

That doesn’t change the fact that it hurts.



I remember asking similar questions about my father when I was little, but my mother has always had a serious problem in talking about my father.

You're such a wonderful mother to be able to be that strong for your children.

Amma D

Yes you all are, so much stronger, so much "recovered". It seems like a loop - "We are brave and happy and solid." But "That doesn’t change the fact that it hurts." But "We are brave and happy and solid." And on and on.

Guess we all need to join On-and-on-anon!

But let's talk about what is REALLY important, which is how well Max and Tre are doing with their piano lessons! How Tre is starting to wander off to practice a piece by himself, and has set the worthy musical goal of finishing his piano book before anyone else finishes theirs. How while counting the time Max bobs his head so hard that he probably needs a visit to the chiropractor...last week his piano teacher became alarmed and told him he was going to hurt himself and use up all his energy bobbing his head while he counts. And how Raphael loves his "pinano" practice. How he can find C, and say the alphabet on the piano (A-B-C-D-E-F-G).


And really, it should hurt. You wouldn't want something that traumatic to happen in your life and be so numb or desensitized to it that you don't feel the pain, it is part of the healing.
I think it is great that you allow your boys to know that pain and see you deal with it. Thank heaven for your parents also huh?
You are doing a great job. I am proud of you.



*tears* Love you.


Strong, yeah, BUT! You are ALSO pretty. And you write pretty. I would tell you to hang tough but it is patently obvious that all of you already ARE. *proud to know you*

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