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It hurts when you don’t show up.

Family visits are usually once a week (sometimes twice a week) for two hours at a time.

Let me say that again – Once a week; two hours at a time.

That’s not a lot of time when you think about how many hours are in the week (168, just in case you were wondering).  It’s not a lot of time to see your child.  Not a lot of time to bond, to play, to visit, to care, to parent.

So why don’t you show up?

When you were the one who requested the visit, when you don’t have a job, when you don’t have anything else in the world that needs your attention more than your child, why don’t you show up?

I’m trying so very hard not to judge.

I know there are millions of reasons not to show up.  Sometimes you can’t get a ride, sometimes you forget, sometimes your addiction flares and you’re in no shape to visit.  I know these reasons, and I try not to judge.  After all, sometimes, you’re just a child yourself.

But.

We show up.  We wait for you in the playroom.

I plaster a smile on my face, anxious whether or not you’ll be there this time.  I can tell he’s anxious and a bit nervous, but I try to be happy and calm and reassure him that everything’s going to be fine.  He may be only a toddler, but he knows what this place is.  He knows what is supposed to happen when he comes here.

He whines.  He throws toys.  He tries to run outside.

Finally, the worker tells us we can go, and to be honest, I’m relieved.  At least now we know. You’re not showing up.

He may be only a toddler, but I can tell he’s confused and hurt.

Or maybe I’m projecting my feelings onto him.  Because I’m hurt.  And I’m confused.  I want so badly to protect him from the pain I know one day he will feel because of this.  I want you to show up.  Or I want you to leave for good.

I’m trying not to judge.

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