Some five years ago I found myself walking down the aisle to marry a wonderful man whom I proudly recognize today, as my true love and an amazing father to our two daughters, Alexandra 15 and Gabriela 12. By now I can imagine that your math is not adding, and I do not blame you.
It all started more than 20 years ago when I thought I was deeply in love and married the man who fathered my girls. As a friend once pointed out to me, “What does a 20-year-old know about love?” Oh boy, was he right on target. Our marriage lasted for 12 tumultuous years. Since I am of Asian descent, when I approached my parents five years into my “make believe happy marriage” and told them I wanted a divorce, they said “Chinese people do not get divorced, so go back home and fix your marriage”, six years later with two baby girls in tow and no secrets about my failed marriage, I went back to them and stated, once again, that I wanted a divorce, this time they sadly said “It was time…and we support you!”
Alexandra was seven at the time, and I will never forget how her tiny face shone with sheer happiness when I escorted her and her little sister into our new home, a small apartment that I had rented and furnished with the last of my savings. I had managed to move into the apartment literally little by little. Every day after work I would rush home to pack toys and clothes into large, black garbage bags, whenever the girl’s father wasn’t around the house, and drove to the place, dragging the heavy bags and dropping them just inside the apartment, so I could rush back to the girls before their father came home. On weekends, I would go to the apartment and fix everything, preparing for the day that I could finally call it my home. My ex-husband had full knowledge that I was suing for a no fault divorce and it wasn’t until the family court judge’s final ruling that I was allowed to leave HIS house with my girls. Otherwise, I would have been abandoning the family home and kidnapping my own children. Gabriela was so young at the time; she barely remembers the bad and nasty moments that her older sister, unfortunately, will never forget.
My wonderful husband and I were introduced through common relatives, when I was still married, he always kept his distance and I was so immersed in my misery that I would daydream about being with someone like him had I not hurried into marriage so early in life and had decided that I would die if I did not marry against all odds, my family’s and friends’ wishes, to my now ex-husband. Again, “What does a 20-year-old know about love?”
Here I take a breath to clarify that I do not agree with divorce and I encourage all my friends and family, who are going or planning to go through it that, the sanctity and unity of a family is sacred and should almost never be broken, unless there are “irreconcilable differences” meaning aggression and disrespect. Even marriages that fall out of love are known to continue together with some kind of common ground negotiation, usually for the sake of the children. However, there are situations when the people involved are better off on their own.
When I was finally divorced, my soon-to-be wonderful husband decided that I needed a movie-buddy and that he was the suitable person for this task. He introduced me to fine sushi, a deliciously and mouth-watering experience!!! There are no words to describe the feeling you have when tasting a piece of fresh red tuna or pink salmon and the way the fish will melt in your mouth. He also introduced me to other joyful experiences such as feeling respected, cared, protected and loved. When after two years of being movie-buddies he decided it was time to go up a step and asked me to marry him, I could not believe my ears. All this time I swore we were only friends. All I could think about was how this well-groomed, educated and Asian-raised young man could even think about marrying a divorcee with two girls. Was he going nuts? Especially being an only child to his very traditional Asian mother. Well, it seems he knew what he wanted and it was the three of us. So I said yes!
Alexandra was excited about the idea of having another father figure, but Gabriela was not happy. For her there was only one dad. She now understands that being a biological dad, does not necessarily makes you a DAD. It is a business that takes time, energy and tender care to make it flourish and pay up revenues. It is not a case of overnight success and it definitely is not an automatic title you get by right of birth.
Nowadays, I have the firm conviction that my girls know that their “Daddy” respects, cares, protects and loves them like his own. My wonderful husband makes sure he transmits those feelings everyday with every word and action to our daughters, who know without a doubt in their hearts that their “Daddy” will always be there for them no matter what, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Last Sunday was Father’s Day and a very emotional celebration for our family since it was the first time in five years that I could testify that my wonderful husband embraced and demanded ownership of the celebration, it was His day and he would celebrate it with His girls. There is a specific feeling that you have when after a long and painful journey you get the sense that you have finally reach your destination. I know that as my girls and I continue living with this wonderful man, there will be many more destinations to come, however I feel pretty content with where I am at this moment.