Derek put a lot of stress on himself to succeed and to get the Western Illinois basketball program up to his standard and sometimes it was at a cost to his family. He became so focused on his job that he lost touch with family life. My husband had no clue what was going on in our house and I don’t know if it was just my husband or if all husbands were that detached. I imagine it is most husbands because one day as I was dropping off my daughter at school I saw a little girl who looked so disheveled with her hair standing up on ends, two different colored shoes and holding an orange and bottle of pop which I assumed was supposed to be her lunch. I asked the teacher if everything was alright with little Emma and she matter of factly responded, “Oh, her mom is sick today and dad was in charge.” Well, that explained everything right there. I am surprised he even found the school. Why do dads get a free pass when it comes to their involvement in their children’s lives but if a woman brought her child into school like that someone would call social services? If it wasn’t for me my kids would not be able to swim, would have bad teeth, and would not leave the couch. My husband has never taken any of our kids to a swim lesson, dentist appointment, orthodontist appointment, doctor’s appointment, and nor has he signed them up for any of their school or sports activities. My husband has no clue about who has practice for what sport on what day, which child has a field trip to the zoo, which kid takes piano lessons, when teacher conferences are, who has a band concert, or what time the kids get out of school. Yet I know all of this plus his win-loss record, the injury report on his players, which players grades are in jeopardy, and the time and place of his practices. Maybe it is because women are better multi-taskers but I shouldn’t have to ask you to be involved in your children’s lives. At one point he was so disconnected from us that I had to ask him to get up in the morning to see his kids off to school. The kids were usually gone to school before he had to wake up for work so he would just sleep right through the morning commotion and not even get up to say good bye. This would happen even when he knew he was leaving for a road trip and wouldn’t see the kids for days. How could you not say good bye to your kids? Or there were the times when one of the kids had a sporting event on a Saturday morning and I would get all four kids up, dressed, fed, and ready while he took his sweet time getting out of bed and getting dressed just in time to leave for the game. Or the times that he got these great ideas of taking the kids on a weekend trip but then I was the one left to find someone to watch the dogs, pack the kids, make sure there were plenty of snacks and games for the road, and come up with a game plan for the weekend that goes beyond sitting in our hotel room.
After many months of this disconnection I finally had to sit him down and explain to him that he couldn’t do this anymore. I don’t think he realized how far removed he had become from his family. He was so stressed from his job and wanted to be a success and turn the program around so badly that it was costing him his family. I told him I was tired of him being away from home all the time and me being the one having to field the question, “Why is dad gone all the time?” I was tired of him being home in the physical sense but not the emotional sense. It was a wakeup call for him because I brought out charts and statistics about the behavior of girls who grow up with a distant or nonexistent relationship with their father. I told him I didn’t want our girls looking for attention from every Tom, Dick and Harry because they didn’t get the attention that they needed from their father. I didn’t mess around when it came to the well-being of my children. He needed to become more involved with his children’s lives especially since he had a job that required a lot of travel. I suggested he take them out to breakfast before school or go to school and eat lunch with them in the cafeteria or volunteer to help out with a field trip.
In the end he figured it out like I knew he would. I never doubted his intentions. He is a good man by nature and he wants the best for his children and like most of us sometimes he falls off track. That is what marriage is about – making sure we don’t fall too far off track. And, as our children grew so did his involvement. He has coached their teams, spoken at their schools, taken them on father/kid weekends and ever since our talk he gets up every morning (when he is in town) to see them off to school.