Why Father’s Day always made me sad

Girl carrying her father's lunch pail, Omaha 1...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve read quite a few blogs over the past few days about dads.  Most of them concern happy memories of men who took fatherhood seriously, men who gladly accepted the responsibility (and joy) of being a real dad.  I guess, not having that when I was a little girl, is why Father’s Day is a holiday that’s always been surrounded by sadness for me. 

I adored my father when I was a little girl, he was everything to me.  Unfortunately, he didn’t reciprocate those feelings.  He was in and out of the home.  I never knew, when I went off to school in the morning, if he’d be there that night.  He would just run off with no notice and no explanation.  Then, one day, he’d just show up, acting like nothing had happened.  This went on for years until my parents were divorced when I was nine years old.

After the divorce, my father didn’t pay child support (this was back in the day before that was considered a crime), very rarely visited us, never remembered birthdays.  Of the few times he arranged to come visit us, he often simply wouldn’t show up…no explanations, no excuses.  There were a few times when we’d visit with him, one time I was able to bring my best friend with me.  I don’t remember much about the visit with my father, but I do remember having a good time with my friend.

In addition to being an irresponsible dad, my father was also an alcoholic and had a violent temper.  Not a particularly joyous home in which to grow up.  I was incredibly shy and insecure.  Now, as an adult, I totally understand why that was so.  Through the years, I’ve managed to overcome that paralyzing shyness, but still struggle with the insecurity on occasion.  I often don’t fully trust people and don’t really believe it when someone tells me they’ll do something.

I didn’t see my father at all, didn’t hear from him, after I turned 13.  Until I was around 30, that is.  My mom had died a few months earlier when I received a phone call from my father.  Silly me, my first thought was that he was sorry for the type of father he’d been, that we could now develop a caring relationship.  Well, not quite.  One of the first questions he asked me was if I was still fat…seriously?  After all these years that’s the best you can do?  Then he told me he never really loved my mom…you know, my mom who was the only parent who had always been there for me and who had so recently died…but that he’d always loved only me.  I told him that was fine because Mom had married a guy who loved her and treated her well, who had shown her so much of the world that she’d never had the opportunity to see.  That they had formed a blended family with my brothers and myself and his daughter and son, that we got together and did all those family things that normal people do.  He then began whining for me not to be that way, that he loved me.  Then he told me he was in a tough spot and asked if I could send him some money.  I couldn’t believe his nerve.  Here was a guy who never paid child support, who subjected his kids to a childhood of poverty, and he was asking me to send him money.  Of course, I told him I wouldn’t do it.  It didn’t take him long to end the conversation after that.

That last phone call was unbelievably painful for me.  I guess, until then, I’d always had this childish dream that my dad would come back into my life and be the dad that he should have always been.  That call put that dream to rest and caused me to grow up and take care of myself, stop waiting for my father to come back and fix things.  In that regard, perhaps he did me a favor, but it sure didn’t feel like that at the time.

I sincerely believe that every little girl (and little boy) deserves a caring, loving, responsible dad…a dad who understands what it means to be a father, who embraces that willingly no matter how difficult it may be at times.  Unfortunately there are men who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to be a good dad.  It’s unfair to the child, depriving her of the love and security she deserves.  My wish for children every where is that their fathers whole heartedly embrace fatherhood, and all that it entails, and live up to their responsibilities.  Every child deserves that.


11 Responses

  1. It saddens me to read your story. I guess I’ve never looked at Father’s Day through the eyes of a child who really had no one to celebrate. You have come so far, since then. 🙂 Hugs. Lots of hugs.

    • aww..thanks so much for the kind words…this was difficult to write, but I felt it was something I needed to do for myself. And thanks so much for the hugs…you can never have too many hugs!!

  2. I can’t imagine the strength it must have taken to write a post with so much of one’s heart. Lots of hugs from me too, Patti!

  3. What a poignant post. I realize how blessed I was to have my step father. My
    bio. dad joined the Army shortly after he married my mother and abandoned us.
    Out of a sad situation came a ray of light/hope/resolution and I can’t imagine how my life would have been without my Pop.
    Blessings and peace.

    • My mother married a wonderful man when I was a young adult…our families blended and we’re still close even after the death of my mom. Thankfully there are men in this world who are willing to take responsibility for children they didn’t biologically father.

  4. u r a strong person…. stronger than me…. trust me i had tears while reading this blog of urs…. i salute you to be so tough….. respects and love……. take care…

    • oh I don’t know, Ashmita…I think we all do the best we can to be the best we can, there are a lot of us fatherless children in the world…thank goodness for our mothers. and anyone else in our lives who was willing to step in. Hugs to you too, my friend.

  5. […] Why Father’s Day always made me sad (run4joy59.wordpress.com) […]

  6. Hi, I have 4 children that can relate to your story. Guess I feel myself in your mother’s shoes….. Sometimes for Father’s Day, Ive been given cards and well wishes :o) Sounds like your ‘step’ dad, is the one who deserves the card.

    • For a lot of years, Mom was both mom and dad. I was actually a young adult when Mom and Herald married, but he’s a wonderful man and I’m so thankful to have him in my life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: