I heard him crunching the ice on the sidewalk as he walked in. He bounded in the door, his usual energetic self, happy with his new haircut.
He said he wanted to talk to me about something and he went over the couch and sat down. He patted the seat next to him and summoned me to sit with him. I couldn't resist the invitation. I knew he must be serious since that is what I always do when I want to have a serious talk with him. So, even though it was nearly bedtime and he still needed a shower to get rid of all the "tickly hair" around his neck, I sat.
He said "I want to know about my dad. Not my dad who died, but my first dad." Panic struck my insides. Why didn't he want to talk about sex or something?!?!?
It's not like the topic of "Old Dad", as we refer to him, never comes up. But, usually, it is just a brief question here and there.
That night he wanted the details......"Start at the beginning mom, where did you and my first dad meet?"
Here is the thing.....Old Dad was a drug dealer, I was addicted, we were a complete and total mess. My life was everything I pray his will not be. Things didn't end well with Old Dad. We went to court, got restraining orders, finally moved away and haven't had any contact since. That was 6 1/2 years ago.
Questions about him were always asked about why we didn't see him anymore. The answers have been a little more detailed as he gets older. He knows a little about the drugs, but mostly that he was "mean" to me. This is an understatement. He stalked me and terrorized me to no end when I decided to leave him. But, he doesn't need the details.
I gave him a few details of how we met and ushered him to the shower with promises that I would tell him more later.
As he showered, I paced my room. Praying quickly "Lord, what should I say to him?"
Then it happened. I remembered some good things about Old Dad. I remembered how kind he was to people. How he was always the first to help. I told Tanner about these things, from behind the shower curtain. I told him how much he liked to ride bicycles, one of Tanner's very favorite things to do. I told him how Old Dad protected me when I needed it.
He got out of the shower and into bed. As I tucked him in, I told him how Old Dad wasn't a bad person but that he had a lot of problems. That drugs make us make super bad choices. That sometimes, our problems are so big that the only way out is Jesus.
I told him how much I loved him and that is why we had to stop being around Old Dad. That I couldn't risk him being taken away from me. That he was more important to me than anything or anyone else.
I think he needed to hear that he was born out of love. He needed to know that there was good in old dad. That he wasn't destined to be "bad", that he had a chance.
It would have been easy to ignore the prompting to tell him the good about his Old Dad. It was scary to tell him some of the truth that I'd rather keep hidden.
My heart was softened that night. I think both of our hearts were healed a bit.
God is so good at knowing what we need and when we need it.