At 21, I found myself on the dating scene as a single mother. When I dated guys and said the words “two year old,” a look of disgust and terror crossed their faces. This meant diapers, strollers and Chuckie Cheese – in other words, total Hell on Earth. They split so fast I wasn’t sure if they were training for the Olympics or running from the cops.
Finally, I met an amazing man when my daughter was 3. He came into our lives and changed everything. They clicked instantly and he fondly called her “Pee-Diddles.” He wasn’t her biological father, but he was her father in every other way.
We married and Pee-Diddles was the apple of his eye. I was no longer a single mother; he shared all of the responsibilities, including adding my daughter to his health insurance. He cried right along next to me when our baby girl went off to her first day of kindergarten. They played video games and watched all of her favorite movies together. As a soccer player and avid fan of the team, Chelsea, he took on the role of soccer coach for her league.
She wanted to be just like him.
When Pee-Diddles entered middle school my relationship with my husband became rocky. We fought more and more. He cheated on me multiple times and I could no longer handle it. The cracks in our marriage became craters. Though I knew how much she loved him, I had to make a difficult decision.
We divorced and he told me he would never abandon his daughter.
For the first two years he remained true to his word. While I thought it was strange he never let her visit him in his new home, he did pick her up and spend time with her. He took her out to dinner, the movies and shopping for new clothes, and she loved seeing him. He often came over and spent time with her at my house as well.
In 2015, all of that changed when he entered into a serious relationship. He dropped my daughter from his health insurance without telling me. I was both hurt and outraged but the truth is, she isn’t actually his daughter; she is my responsibility. He didn’t see her for Christmas or her birthday. Instead, he left money in an envelope at my parent’s house. The card simply read, “Love, Dad.”
He ghosted my daughter and it has been horrific.
I allowed this man into my daughter’s life and never considered the consequences should we break up. I assumed he would always be there. After all, she was his Pee-Diddles. He raised her and watched her grow up right next to me.
My heart breaks when she texts him, “Happy Birthday” and he doesn’t respond. That she still proudly sports her keys on a Chelsea lanyard, always remembering cheering on the team right along with her Dad. She is left with memories of a man who has become a ghost, and all I can do is assure her that he didn’t leave her, he left me.