By: Mia L. Hazlett
The Window Wait. That’s what I call it. Sitting by the window waiting for what I know is not going to happen. When my husband and I first separated, Sundays and Mondays were his days with the kids. Sundays began with a 10 or 11am pick-up and Mondays he would pick them up from daycare. Each night he would drop them off at about 7:30pm. It worked for all of us. Gradually over the year, 10-11 became 1-2, then 3-4. But children are creatures of habit. They were in the habit of being ready by 10-11 for months.
I always thought it was a cliché when I heard people speak of the kids waiting on the doorstep or looking out the window for the other parent to arrive. Not one at all. I watched my oldest for weeks sit in the window waiting to be picked up. My youngest was only three, so I kept her in routine – lunch and nap, instead of joining her sister. My oldest wouldn’t eat lunch out of fear if he arrived and they were eating, he wouldn’t wait for them, plus he was taking them out to eat, “he promised we could get McDonalds.” I struggled through those months. I would try to entertain them or take them out, but my oldest was not gonna be anywhere but at the house waiting for the pick-up. And trust me, when it got to the 3-4 stage, I was fuming, but she would jump and scream to her sister to announce the arrival. They would go dancing down the stairs and jump into his arms.
Then there would be the times when he couldn’t come. He would call. I relayed the message, dried the tears, and coddled. I would do my best to compensate by either taking them to the movies, store, or McDonalds myself. Finally one day he called and told me he couldn’t come because he was out-of-town and wouldn’t make it back. I couldn’t do it! I could not break my daughters’ hearts again, while he got to carry on in vacation land. I went to the only room in the apartment that had a lock, the bathroom. It was a huge bathroom where I even put a little chair in so I could sit and lock the door.
I called my BFF and cried and cried and cried. She is just the sweetest person to turn to when you can’t take it anymore, “What the hell are you crying for? This is Big Girl Pants time. He’s not crying is he? He’s the one who cancelled and isn’t gonna see his kids. If he’s not crying, why are you? Go sit with my god-daughter and you wait in the window for him to show up. If he wants them to know he’s not coming, he’s gonna have to play bad guy. Hang up and call him and tell him he has a phone call to make. Let her answer. She’s going to start thinking you are the one who is not letting them see him, because you are always bringing the bad news. Trust me, I’ve been through the, Daddy Doesn’t Show plenty of times. They tend to show a lot more when they don’t have a messenger.” As I wiped my tears I asked her, “But what if he doesn’t want to call her?” She responded, “I’ve been there too. You tell him you are not telling her and you two are going to sit in that damn window. Tell him, now he’s gonna be a no-show with no-call.” I followed her instructions, and magically he was able to pick the girls up in time for the movie. I sure do have the greatest rudest best friend in the world!
From that point on, I removed myself from their relationship. A rude person I know told me I had to let them form a relationship without me. Whatever it was going to be, it had to be between them. Again, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t like it is now, when weeks would go by, before he sees them. We kept our daughters in their same morning routine, where he would bring them to school and pick our oldest up in the afternoon and drop her off at daycare. So he saw them all days with the exception of Saturdays.
But now that my daughter is older and we don’t live just a 15 minute ride away, there are weeks that will pass when he doesn’t see them. I’ve remained out of that and allowed her to call and face-time her father to make the arrangements. But because the consistency is no longer there and she is older, roles are reversed. She decides if she wants to see him. Sometimes she has plans that she won’t change. Sometimes he has plans. But she no longer waits or cries, she unfortunately assumes it’s not going to happen.
This is not to leave out my youngest. She was three when we separated. Unfortunately her relationship formed around her sister’s relationship with their father. She has a copycat relationship. However her sister feels about him, she feels. If her sister doesn’t want to go, neither does she. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I’ve learned to stay out of it and allow them to form their own relationship with him. I’m just grateful there are no more tears when daddy doesn’t show.