Sorry, Not Sorry

To Whom it Really Doesn’t Concern,

I’m sorry if you somehow felt uncomfortable that I smiled and said “hi” to your little girl while as we crossed paths the other evening. Yeah, I’m the early-30-something guy walking up and down the aisles of the local grocery store, alone with my list in hand, but I assure you I’m no freak. I couldn’t help but notice that you grabbed your daughter and pulled her close to you as you turned the corner to head to Aisle 6, casting a critical eye in my direction. I can’t help but wonder if you’d react the same way if I had my own little girl hanging off of my shopping cart at the time. You see, it might not look like it but I, too, am a Daddy. And while I might not be able to throw my little princess in the car to run errands save for a few agreed upon times a year, it doesn’t mean that I’m some crazed nut for simply wanting to make your daughter smile and being polite. I relish that feeling of hanging out, doing nothing in particular, and just enjoying that father-daughter bond. I miss it frequently and I’m quite envious of you who may or may not even take it for granted. But please don’t cast me aside as bizarre for simply being alone and friendly.

And to you, Mr. Bossman, who hired me full well knowing my personal situation. I’m very sorry if it inconveniences you and your staff meeting if I have to leave a few minutes early because my little girl is in town this week and I need to get home at a reasonable time.� I give you 250 days a year of nothing but my flexibility and hard work, often putting in 50 hour workweeks and rarely even taking lunch. Is it really that big of a deal if I want to actually enjoy a few hours each day while she visits? I know you don’t think of me in that light, but being a father is extremely important to me. Don’t worry, you’ll have me back at your mercy in a few more days.

As for you, co-Worker who sees fit to ask me every time they see me when the last time I spoke to my daughter was, with that judgmental look on your face; I understand that you can’t comprehend not going home to your children every single night and I’m sorry if you think I’m less of a parent because of it. Frankly, I don’t expect that you’d be able to understand, but I sure don’t think it benefits either of us to passive-aggressively prod into my relationship with my daughter (we’re just fine, if you must know) and try to make me feel like I’m less of a father because I’m 1,500 miles away from her.

So many are so quick to draw their own conclusions and pass judgment on my status as a long distance parent. Perhaps it would help if I let you in on a little secret “I’m no different from every other father you might come in contact with today; I’m just a little bit further away from my little girl.That’s all. I make every effort to talk to her daily, if she’s interested in chatting. I’m well aware of what’s going on at her preschool, who her friends are, and what her plans are this weekend. I hear all about her clothes (most of which, I’ve actually sent to her), tell her I love her all the time, and sometimes even let her pick out which tie I should wear (she almost always goes for the pink one). I might have to wait a little bit longer between hugs than you do, but I can just about guarantee that I probably cherish each one a little bit more because of it.

To be honest, my life is great! I have a wonderful, loving and caring girlfriend, who is always there to listen. She gives me perspective every day, and has shown me what it means to believe in real true love  a soul mate and a partner. I’m extremely thankful for her and I wouldn’t trade my life with her for anything. I do miss my daughter, my little sidekick, every single day, but I’d be lying if I said that all of our lives weren’t better for the choices that led me to be where we are today. I cherish every minute that I get to share this amazing life with my little girl, whether on the phone, or in person a few times a year. And I love her just as much as you love your kids, too.

So, although my life may be “different” from yours, and subject to a little bit of long distance complexity, all I really can say “I’m sorry” for is your reaction because, truthfully, I have nothing to apologize for. My life, my situation, is really none of your business. And if it makes you uncomfortable or influences what you think of me, I suppose that’s not exactly any of my business at all.

Next time you swing by my office, don’t feel so awkward. Ask me about the little girl in the pictures on my desk. I would love nothing more than to tell you what an amazing little princess she is. Who knows, I might even sound like a “real” Daddy in doing so.

Sincerely,

-m

matthew

Matthew recently began his long distance parenting arrangement with his four year old daughter after relocating to the Los Angeles area earlier this year. He is learning to navigate the emotional difficulties and challenges in trying to maintain a relationship and stay involved with such a young daughter, while embarking upon a whole new life out West.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Liz

    Matt,

    I just have to say that I am so thankful you joined this site! My boyfriend and I are dealing with his daughters move to Georgia with her mom. She left this past May and while many judge us for not protesting and throwing a fight, we knew it what was best for right now. We are both full time college students and job holders. It is hard enough for us to make it through a week. In Georgia she gets a stable home, something that was not provided in her 50/50 custody we had before we left.
    I so understand every word your saying probably just as your girlfriend does. I love that little girl more than life, and we talk to her 3x a week without fail. Sometimes I think we are more involved then some parents who live in the same house.
    I’m blabbering. Anyways. THANK YOU, for writing, for fighting for your side and being the voice that hopefully everyone can hear.
    Sometimes the hardest choice and the right choice are the same.

  2. matthew

    Liz, this is a beautiful sentiment, and one that I almost feel that you have to live to be able to fully appreciate: “Sometimes the hardest choice and the right choice are the same.” Keep making that effort to maintain as close a relationship as you possibly can. The reward is all yours, and not something that you have to justify to anyone else.

  3. Doug

    Matt,

    I can not begin to thank you enough for you taking the time to write this. This parallels my situation on so many levels, touches my heart and offers encouragement to me at time in my life when I seem to be needing it the most.

    Thank you,
    Doug
    Doug

  4. Jessi

    Matt, thank you so much for writing this. It really spoke to me as my husband’s little boy is currently across the country from us…for medical reasons as well as quite a few others, we simply can’t move to be near him at this time and it seems that no one can understand unless they’ve lived the situation. Even from such a distance, he’s still a better father than many who live with their children; and it sounds like you are, too.

  5. Marc S.

    Matt- Suddenly, and I’m sure, temporarily, I do not feel so alone. Your situation is identical to mine. I sometimes start crying in the grocery store after seeing parents doing the mundane with their kids. The real guilt comes when I come home to my fiance who has a 9 year old daughter whom I also love so much. I can’t help but feeling like I am cheating on my own kids when I read her a story at night. I even catch myself acting differently to her as a result of this. I know intellectually that love is infinite and their is enough to go around but still I feel guilty. Anyway, thank you so much for your letter.

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