Despite my stony facade or what others' perception (and unnecessary judgments) of my life, I struggle every day with the decisions I make. I'm constantly wondering how everything I say or do is going to affect my daughter. What's going to be that ONE thing she remembers word-for-word that I wish I hadn't said? What "mean" thing did I do that she will torment me over when she's twenty five? I try to do the right things, and apologize when I know I did or said something to hurt her in any way. I weigh big decisions especially carefully, hoping the positive side always prevails.
So when I went through a separation nearly three years ago, and started the long, painful path to divorce, I struggled daily. I waved back and forth like a thin blade of grass in the wind, unsure which direction would not only benefit ME the most, but what would be good for Chloe as well. It was very hard, and anyone who thinks I did it flippantly or without caution doesn't know me at all.
I put a lot of pressure on myself at that time, and tried to think through all possible scenarios. Would it hurt her more for us to fight it out another five years and rip her apart when she was older? Would I be able to live with myself if I "played pretend" for the better years of my life? Could we live two separate lives but continue to play "happy family" for her sake? How long could she buy it if we did? And even then, would she blame me? Would she be more wounded than ever?
It was awful and difficult. In my heart I knew what was right FOR ME, but I had another person to consider.
Even though I am truly confident I found the person for me and know I am happy and will have a beautiful life with him, there are times I still worry about her. So when she sparks a conversation like this one, it really helps reassure me that even if all my decsions haven't been perfect, I'm doing something right.
"So I'm goin' ta my Dad's this weekend?" she asked from the back seat of the car.
"Yep. You haven't been in TWO WEEKS! I bet he misses ya." I said cheerfully. I try not to press my feelings onto her.
"Ya probably," she said. "I hope we do somethin' fun," she added. She was quiet for a few minutes, something I relish when we're in the car, because I rarely even hear the radio, much less listen to a whole song. Eventually she broke the silence again.
"Ya know, dads are good, but sometimes step-dads are even better!" she said with a twinkle in her eye.
"Oh yeah?" I asked, encouraging her to elaborate.
"Yeah, 'cuz, like my step-dad, he does a lot more stuff for me and does fun stuff, too," she said, bobbing her head as she used her explanatory voice.
I'm not sure what she'd been thinking about, it could've been anything, but it made me feel good. Then she went on.
"You know, even doh Mister hasn't been a dad before, he's a real good dad," she said. "I fink he is anyway. He doesn't even have any children, but he is a good dad," she confirmed.
My heart smiled. I'm glad that she is lucky enough to have a dad who didn't drop off the face of her Earth, and I'm even more glad that she has such a great guy to fill in all the spaces in between and be there for her, even when he doesn't realize that's what he's doing.