This fictional post is a reaction piece to Liza Long’s “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” Long’s brutal and honest article is a powerful read about the tragic loss in Newtown addressing the mental health element in the midst of this national catastrophe and conversation.
Let me also preface this post by adding that this is not a personal attack on the Newtown shooter’s father rather a commentary on the state of fatherhood in America.
Three days before 20 first-graders were gunned down in Connecticut, I wasn’t anywhere near my family. In fact, I haven’t spent much time with my two sons at all over the last four years.
You see, I gave up on my marriage several years before my divorce. I literally walked out on my kids and left my wife to raise them alone.
Like many other men, I loved my wife when we first married, but her nagging wore me out.
Then, similar to other couples in trouble, we thought having kids would “fix” us.
At first, I enjoyed being a dad. But as they grew older, I grew less interesting and they less fun.
Leading my home and raising my children was exhausting and never-ending. Our special needs child was particularly challenging. Sure, he was intelligent and strong-willed, but sometimes I wished my autistic son had been born, well, less special.
I didn’t live with my mentally ill son, so I didn’t see when he started slipping. My ex-wife had to bear that responsibility alone. She had to cope with his frequent meltdowns. At first, she was physically stronger than him, but as he matured, she grew to fear his violent outbursts and irrational, uncontrollable and temporary insanity.
Overall, my home life was just too hard. I was overwhelmed by the constant need to make good decisions. Every little mistake I made impacted others. I didn’t “sign up” for all of that.
When asked about my failed marriage, I blame “irreconcilable differences,” but inside I know I really abandoned my family to pursue my selfish, adolescent desires.
I don’t see what all the fuss is about; fathers don’t do much anyway. We can’t grow a baby inside of us. We can’t experience the pains of childbirth or the intimacy of breastfeeding. How important are we really?
Women do a great job of raising children on their own. Women are right; they don’t need men and are often better off without one. Dads really only get in the way.
I really love my sons, but I left them to be raised by their mother.
“They’ll be alright,” I told myself. “I didn’t grow up with a dad around and I turned out ok.”
Seeing my kids on court-appointed days was weird at first. Then it became normal.
Missing important events was expected. Working long hours paid the alimony and child-support and kept the judges and lawyers off my back.
The distance made it hard for me to discipline them on a regular basis. The distance hindered us from developing deep relationships, so my sons learned about the “real world” on their own.
I wasn’t there to guide my sons into manhood. I didn’t teach them to love and respect their mother. I especially failed at teaching my children to value and protect the gift of life.
Looking back I see that I was unprepared for family life. I was still a boy who hadn’t put away the things of my youth. I was ruled by narcissism.
I was weak, unnecessary, absent. It made me sad to see what my son had become.
What was I supposed to do? I was powerless to stop what happened inside my son and inside that school.