Two years ago, I was in the middle of a court case with #3’s Dad. It was a pretty horrific time for all of us, and involved a fair bit of frozen tequila, and thankfully it has resolved itself now.

I always expected it to leave an impact on me, and it has. I don’t think that going through something like that would leave anyone unscathed. Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a time where I just cease to talk about it. But yet there are still times now where I will spend hours dumping all my thoughts on it onto my Mum, or one of my few friends who know the whole story. They are the same thoughts and same stories every time and yet I think in some ways I am still trying to make sense of the whole thing. Sometimes it strikes me in weird ways. I can go days (never much longer) without thinking about him, and then it hits me like a wave and I struggle to leave the house alone. I expected to be angry about it all, and I am furious with the situation. I expected to be somewhat changed by it all, and I am eternally much more protective of myself and the girls because of it. But I didn’t expect to feel guilty about it, and I didn’t expect to feel grief over it.

“It must be easier though, without Dad involved?” Is the question I get asked most. Alongside “But you still must get money for her?”

Ok so firstly, yes, it is somewhat easier to not have her Dad involved, that is my knee jerk answer. When people ask, which they do, I will say yes. Day to day it is easier that he isn’t around. Β But then on the flip side, it is easier for #1 and #2 to have their Dad involved. It is not ‘easier’ to bring a child up alone when the other parent is a normal, reasonable individual. Unfortunately, and it is unfortunate for #3, her Dad wasn’t a normal, reasonable individual. She will grow up knowing that her Dad chose not to have anything to do with her, while he ploughed all his efforts in creating a normal, happy life with his new fiancΓ© and their new baby. She will grow up watching her sisters spend quality time with their Dad, and I imagine will always have questions as to why she doesn’t have that. Now don’t get me wrong, she is incredible, and I like to think we have created a family unit for her that will hopefully alleviate a lot of the upset and trauma for her. She is loved by a lot of people and I am certainly not flying the flag for the necessity of two parents.

However, she has a parent out there, who is actually still quite present. We have mutual friends on social media, he was the best man at a wedding that one of my friends went to recently, my other friends spotted him across the street a few weeks ago, his parents don’t live very far from me. The chances of us bumping into him are quite high. So yes, it might be easier that he isn’t in her life, but there is almost a constant alert in my mind to be watchful for him whenever we go certain places. As of yet I do not have a plan for what happens should we meet him. There is a very high chance that #2 would speak to him, and currently #3 is going through a phase where she says Hello to literally everyone we walk past and all that is going to do is feed his narcissistic belief that she remembers who he is. Which of course she doesn’t given its been two years since she clapped eyes on him and has the memory recall of a goldfish. My plan currently is to hope I spot him before he spots us and then I can turn around and walk very quickly in the opposite direction. Which isn’t really a plan I concede but it’s all I’ve got, aside from avoiding places I think he might be, which I also do quite a lot.

So while yes it is easier that he isn’t around, because I don’t have to deal with his thought processes and what he perceives to be normal behaviour, the other side of the coin is the constant fear that he will come back.

Do I want him to? No.

Do I think it will benefit her? No.

Does that make me selfish? Maybe.

If I had the choice between her having a relationship with her Dad and his new family versus the situation we have now? I think I would pick what we have now. And that is where the guilt comes from. If, given the choice, I would actively choose to keep her in the situation we are currently in. In fact, if I had the choice to tell her anything, I would tell her a lie. I would choose for her never to know about him. I would choose for her not to find out that he took me to court and then chose to dissolve the case terminating all contact with her. I would choose for her never to know that he falsely made claims against me to social services, I would choose for her to have a different Dad altogether in fact. Because regardless of what happened between us, and regardless of whether or not I feel one way or he feels another, she deserves a Dad who loves her the way that I love her, and the way that other people love her. And I feel guilty that she doesn’t have that.

And, there is within me a very dark thought that maybe she never needs to know. She will, of course. I made the decision to not hide anything from her, and when the day comes that she wants to meet her Dad and formulate her own decisions on him and how she wants to proceed with that relationship then I will swallow the burning desire to beg her not to, and to stay within the family unit where she is loved and protected and safe. And I will be beside her, on her team through it all, because she is mine and she will always be just mine, and it is my job to have her back regardless of what decisions she makes and how they make me feel. Because how I feel isn’t relevant to her. It isn’t relevant to how she should proceed with her life. I am lucky enough to know that my Dad loves me and that he didn’t choose to abandon me when I was a baby. I am lucky enough to never have to ask the questions that she will have to ask when she is older.

But I hope with all of my being that that never happens.

Oh, and secondly. No. I don’t get a single penny for her. Which is fine, I don’t need or want his financial support. I could chase for it, but again, why feed his narcissistic view that he in someway contributed to her upbringing.

So, is a life without Dad easier?

Ask me again in a few years…