Families are complicated. It doesn't matter if the family has adoption, inter-faith, divorce, death, sickness, financial issues - it all makes families complicated.
My family is no different. I am the youngest of two, but really four due to divorce and a second marriage. I was two when my mother married my step-father and my brother and I gained two step-sisters. At 39 years old, I can tell you it makes me mad to type step. They are my sisters. He is my father. It is easier for me vs my siblings to say this because I have no memories of any other way. I do not remember my mom and dad together. I do not remember just my brother and me. My step-father always lived with me. My step-sisters always lived with me - I do not remember it was every other weekend. They seem to me to have always been there. This was my family. My parents and my siblings.
I do not talk to my "real dad." Not one bit. Not at all. Nada. Zilch. Our relationship was volatile at best and by the time I was in 6th grade I had had enough. I sat in the lobby of a courthouse in 6th grade prepared to tell a judge I did not want to visit my dad and step-mom anymore. Luckily for me, I never had to testify and the judge ruled in my favor. And that was that. I stopped going.
My dad continued to see my brother - awkward, much? My dad continued and still continues to put my brother in the middle of our 25 year long struggle, can you say douche bag? My dad did not come to my Bat-Mitzvah. He did not want to help pay, so my mom invited him as a guest, but he was not called to the Bimah. Wrong? I don't know. All I know is he wasn't there. My dad offered me car at 16, but only if I drove to his house every weekend to hang with my step mom and learn to cook and sew, vomit much? My dad called on my 18th birthday to tell me I was a bitch. He did not come to my high school graduation. He ignored me at my brother's college graduation and even refused to talk to me at my brother's wedding. This guy is a class act. By the time I graduated college, we were not speaking - not even enough to argue. The silence was blissful to me and as I became an adult, I worked through my serious daddy issues and truly moved on.
Fast forward to my wedding when my mom invited him. Not me. He showed up and the next day I found out all the shit he spoke about me and my husband. Did my mom do the right thing? Sure. Did my dad, nope - but this time it wasn't shocking and it wasn't hurtful. It was his dark reality that he created.
Now, 27 I am pregnant and sick with CML. My phone rings, it is my dad. He apologizes. Tells me he wants to be a grandpa and cannot imagine me dying. Months later, I lose the baby and start treatment and thank G-d, go into remission. My dad stopped calling.
So now, I am a mother of two amazing girls. I made the attempt to have him in our lives. Not for me, but for my daughters. Who am I to decide who their family is? At ages 8 and 5, it has been almost a year since he ignored my family of four at my nephew's Bar-Mitzvah. He came into our lives for the happy moments and as soon as the water got rough, he ran. My nephew's Bar-Mitzvah was the last straw. You can shit all over me, I can take it and dish right back. But when your then 7 year old granddaughter says hi to you and you turn your back, you're fucking lucky I didn't kick you in the nuts and bitch slap you.
About a week ago, E1 asked about my dad. Bless her heart, she finally has all the divorces (there are a lot), second marriages (and thirds), cousins, step this, crap figured out. I can barely keep up with our family tree. That shit should be written in pencil so we can easily erase a mistake.
Anyway, she asked why we no longer see him. FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. I explained to E1 that just like people get sick in their kidneys, liver, etc, people can get sick in their brain. I explained that I truly believe he is sick. Sometimes sick people make poor choices. He makes poor choices. He gets angry at me, his daughter, when I do something he doesn't like and then he won't talk to me. I further explained that I firmly believe no parent should stop speaking to their child. I explained that every single day I love her more, even on the days she makes me angry and that I would never ever stop speaking to her. I let her know as the parent, I have to make tough choices. Choices that are in the best interest of her. I told her it was my choice that we no longer see him. I chose to remove a person, a toxic person, from our lives. I chose to spare my daughter the hurt that comes from someone giving and then taking away their love. I chose to stop trying. I chose peace.
E1 took the news well. She didn't question my decision. She understood. Children can handle uncomfortable topics. They can handle them when you are honest. Parents tend to stay away from uncomfortable topics. I have found that if you are honest and use child appropriate words, children can handle pretty much anything.