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Just over a year ago, I woke up to police knocking at my door. They had a search warrant. My husband of 11 years was immediately arrested for crimes related to viewing child porn.
When the police showed me the search warrant, I thought it meant someone was harming my children online. I couldn’t believe they were here about my husband. I began to panic, and asked questions: How do I tell my children? How do I face my community, the families that we are close to through sports and minor hockey, where my husband was a well-respected coach? I could barely think, let alone breathe. I felt nauseous and overwhelmed. The whole thing did not make sense.
I was afraid to tell people, but I needed help. I started by telling the member of his family I was closest to. Over the phone, she helped me concentrate on eating, hiring a lawyer, and calling the schools to excuse the kids’ absences. By focusing on one task at a time, I got through the first few days, numb and in shock. I had not been able to see him or speak to him.
We had lost our father/spouse/coach and we needed to be treated with care.
Meanwhile, more and more people called me to ask about him. The police had contacted the hockey club where he was a coach. It didn’t take long to figure out that this was not going to be kept secret. I decided to air our dirty laundry in the biggest way. I sent an email to everyone I knew, explaining what happened and what I knew, and asking them to remember that the kids and I were not to blame. We had lost our father/spouse/coach and we needed to be treated with care. For the most part, my community, including the hockey club, became my rock.
My Option B was bearable because of my amazing support group, who didn’t judge me for how my Option B looked.
My community donated money, gift cards, meals, and house-cleaning services. They helped me pack, move, and stage my house for sale. They flew us out of town when the media came knocking at our door. My Option B was bearable because of my amazing support group, who didn’t judge me for how my Option B looked. I decided to separate from my husband. I rented a house in the same neighborhood, focused on supporting my kids, pursued my own career, and tried to find a routine.
My ex received bail that required him to live with his parents, in a town three hours away. He has little money, so I allow him to stay with us every other weekend. Though I have struggled with having him in my life while I try to process my own emotions, I made this decision to help my kids.
While his arrest really made me evaluate who he is as a father, my kids love and miss their dad every day. He is allowed to maintain a relationship with them. In the beginning, his visits consisted of me watching his interactions with the kids like a hawk. Gradually, I trusted him more as a dad. The criminal proceedings have not started, and I am not privy to any evidence for or against him. But he is still the same dad he always was, just in a different capacity.
In the past, I had always made a huge effort on Father’s Day. One year, I created a book called “I like it when…” Each page had a photo of the kids and their dad. I really wanted to highlight his involvement with the kids.
Then last year, the first Father’s Day after the arrest, I struggled with what kind of card to buy. There is no card that says, “Even though you may be a sexual offender and you took away my sense of security, I still love you, Dad.” In the end, I found cards that were not over the top. We made him breakfast and picked up his favourite take-out for dinner.
Father’s Day will never be the same for me. I may forever question what kind of father puts his family through this type of crisis.
Father’s Day is now a simpler affair. I help the kids, now aged 13 and 10, take responsibility for his gifts and make plans for the day.
Father’s Day will never be the same for me. I may forever question what kind of father puts his family through this type of crisis. But I will always have the support of my community. And I want to teach my kids to have an open heart and to accept others despite their faults.
This year, I’ll still host Father’s Day at my house, but I think it will be a little easier than last year. We will make him breakfast, the kids will plan an outing, and we will get take-out again. And I will see about late drinks with my single mom friends, to celebrate the past year of being both a mom and a dad!