But, my father comes with his faults too. I always say, "My father was a great dad but a bad husband". He never treated my mother the way she deserved to be treated, he wasn't a cheater but just sucked at being a husband. He was not affectionate towards my mother, he never considered her an equal, he didn't know how to fight fair; it was either his way or the highway. And, after 15 years of marriage, the highway my mother took.
My parents divorce started in the summer of 1986, just before I entered high school, and was not finalized until my second semester freshman year of college in 1991. In those five years, my brothers and I dealt with many harsh fights, multiple visits from the local police, lies, manipulation; things that no child should ever have to go through. Essentially, we were dealing with two people whose love had turned into so much hate, they could not see anything other than the hate. For those few, but very important years in our lives, my parents stopped being parents.
My father never believed my mother would leave him and his Turkish ego was bruised. More than that, I think my father had such a difficult time understanding that he was more hurt than he was angry. My mother and her lawyer did everything in their power to make my father out to be a monster. My father swore he would rather "Burn my money one-by-one than watch that bitch get a penny."
It was bad, really, really bad. In fact, it was worse than you can ever imagine and probably worse than anything you've seen on television. When I speak of the divorce, I refer to it as "Our divorce" thus confusing people. No, I've never been married or divorced but I refer to my parents divorce as "our" divorce because I went through it as much, if not more, than they did.
So, why am I telling you this story today? Especially since I NEVER talk about my parents divorce anymore. Especially since it is father's day and you're supposed to celebrate your father today. Well, I read the story of Ted Rubin's divorce and custody battle and it inspired me to write this post. Ted's wife has made it impossible for him to see his children. You can read about it on Ted's Blog as well as Sugar Jones' blog.
As much as my parents HATED each other, as much chaos as they created in our lives, my mother never once stopped us from seeing my dad. In those years, those horrible five years, we still went to dinner with him most nights, we went skiing together, we did many tings together. I don't ever recall an interruption in our time together. I will go onto to add, my father never paid one dime in child support to my mother (I told you he wasn't perfect). He flat out refused to give her any money. And she still never got in the way of our relationship with him. What benefit would it have been to me and my brothers if my mom had withheld visitation rights without a child support check? None.
Even today, my mother will say, "I could have taken you guys and moved back to Turkey (where they are both from) to my parents, it would have been so easy for me, but then you guys wouldn't have a relationship with your father and I didn't want to do that". She cannot understand women who inhibit a relationship between children and their fathers. Even the worst dad is better than no dad!
Today, we all live downtown Chicago in the Gold Coast neighborhood. I am four blocks from my father's place and six blocks from my mother's place. The two, they still don't like each other and that's just fine. I see my father no less than two times a week, he is one of my closest friends, and my relationship with my father is the single best aspect of my life.
To all the mother's out there who are hurt, or angry, or whatever you are feeling, whatever "justifiable" reason you think you may have for not allowing your children to see their fathers - You are wrong. You are dead wrong.
Any man who wants to be a part of his children's life is a good father. They don't have to be your opinion of the best father, they just need to want to be there. They need to be a part of their kids lives.
I Love You, Daddy (Little Golden Book)