For those of you who don’t know, Freedom Day is the holiday I invented in my family to celebrate the day my ex-husband got arrested. You may think that’s very evil and vindictive of me but that really was the day that set us all free. He was gone, my daughters could begin the difficult task of healing, my sons could also begin the difficult task of healing and we could all craft a new way of being a family together without all the abusive shit he dragged us through.
You’d think, since I invented the holiday that the least I could do was remember it. And I did. But I had meant to come in here last weekend and talk to you about it, and riff off my daughter’s post about it, and I just never made it to the computer.
But I am going to talk for a minute about the subject of her post: my two youngest children, Kimmie and Ricky, have filed papers in New York State Supreme Court seeking official permission to change their surnames from their father’s surname to mine.
If he were to hear of this development, I suspect he would immediately accuse me of putting them up to this. That would be unjust. Kimmie, in particular, has been wanting to do this since before he got arrested. Ricky made up his mind that he wanted the same thing almost immediately after he found out that his father wasn’t going to be back — well, in justice to Ricky, I should rephrase that. Ricky has been wanting to change his name ever since he found out what “that man” did to his sisters.
For them, this step is also part of healing.
I don’t know if either of them ever noticed this but I have never registered an opinion on the subject one way or the other. For both of them, this is a symbolic gesture. It says that they are entirely severing ties with their biological father, because they … um … disapprove of what he did and of his current address, and at the same time they want their names to reflect their relationship with me.
I appreciate the gesture for what it is but I also know that it wasn’t really necessary. They can both sever all ties with their father without ridding themselves of even his name. As a matter of fact, they already have. And I have no stake in the degree to which either of them chooses to reject their father; David still lives with me and David still writes to his father. They have a regular and flourishing correspondence. And, at this point, I think I can honestly say that I don’t care. I am still monitoring that correspondence, because I am still determined not to let him hurt David, but I will frankly confess that I wish I didn’t have to. Human capacity for denial notwithstanding, I think I could say to all my children: punt him, keep him, makes no difference to me.
But I would be lying if I didn’t also confess that Ricky and Kimmie, by choosing to drop the name they were born with for the specific purpose of saying to the world, “This is my mother and we are together” — well, that’s pretty special.
There have been a number of times since I have become a parent when I have momentarily succumbed to the fear of one of a parent’s greatest nightmares: my children will grow to hate me. They will reject me.
I’ve never feared it enough to suck up to them or to leave them in any doubt about who was in charge in my household. I’ve never really tried to be “pals” with them. That would be inappropriate. But I have never tried to hide from them how much I like them, setting aside how much I love them. And in the back of my head, I have done all of this stuff while running the risk that I might in the end be rejected for it.
I never have been. I am grateful.
These children of mine have had a number of ways of telling me over these last four years since the first Freedom Day that they are with me, behind me, pushing me forward, holding me up. They believe in me just as much as I believe in them.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Happy belated Freedom Day, my family. My wish for you all is that you will be free and heal.