Today is Father’s Day. It should not be surprising that this is not one of my favorite holidays. As a child I hated it. It was like pouring salt into a wound. I was so grateful it didn’t come during the school year so that I would have to watch my friends make lovey dovey things for their daddies and feel singled out because I didn’t have one.
Father’s Day was awkward in my home growing up. I would spend most of the day holed up in my bedroom waiting for the next day to come. It was largely ignored except for a phone call to a grandpa to wish him a good day. It stung. I didn’t have a daddy, but not only that, I was never going to have one. It’s not like my mom was single, and someday everything might change. A step dad on a white stallion was not going to be riding in to salvage my parade. A fact I was constantly reminded of.
As an adult, honestly, it’s not much better. Sitting in church today I listened to two sisters share sweet memories they had with their daddies that any child would wish to have, and before I could stop myself I thought “Why didn’t I deserve that?”
I won’t call my dad today. Even though we met when I was sixteen, I struggle to have a dad/daughter relationship with him. As a child I fantasized for years about meeting him, and unfortunately sometimes reality is never like our fantasies.
A couple months ago I spent a lot of time over the course of a couple weeks trying to figure out why we had just never been able to really connect. What was the problem? I wasn’t prepared for what I realized. I know how stupid this is going to sound (my husband already informed me) so please don’t feel the need to lecture me on this.
When I met my dad at sixteen I lived here in Oklahoma and he lived near Denver, CO. He was married and had had three more kids. The oldest was around eight years old. My dad rarely came to OK to visit and so all contact I had with him after we met was over the phone, which was not very often. In my heart I wanted him to move back to Oklahoma now that he had finally met me and we could see one another. My mothers rule had always been that I couldn’t meet him until I was eighteen. I went behind her back to meet him while he was in for Thanksgiving. I figured once I started driving I could see him whenever I pleased if he lived close enough.
I knew that was the only way we could build a relationship and get to know one another better. I felt like he should want to come back and, truthfully, because he didn’t, I felt abandoned all over again. Even now it bothers me he doesn’t want to live near my older sister and I, and our kids. My kids will never have a normal relationship with him. I realize it’s ridiculous to expect a person to pick up their entire lives and move just for me. But the little girl in me wishes he would have.
It is what it is, and I know this day sucks for lots of people whether their dads were deadbeats, have passed away, or worse, they don’t even know who their dads are because their identities have been hidden from them. I know that pain. Even though I was lucky enough to have contact with my paternal family, my dads identity was hidden from me for years, there weren’t even pictures, and no one would talk about him for fear of my mother.
The only thing that makes Fathers Day bearable is watching my husband spend time with our children. I live vicariously through them. It brings me peace and joy that even though I never had what they have, I helped to give them this great man that adores them and loves them helplessly. He is the father of my dreams.
So, Matthew, Happy Father’s Day from your wife who appreciates and loves you more than you’ll ever know.