It seems to be one of those times where I've got a lot on my mind, mostly random things that have both ups and downs. One such topic is fatherhood. And today I just feel like talking about it.
So let’s just get to the point.
I don’t have a dad.
I mean, of course I do. We’re all grown-ups here and we know how babies are made, so yes, somewhere along the line I had a dad—or a father, as I prefer to say. Because to me, dad is a term better left to affectionate and loving paternal relationships—or at least ones where the two speak to each other. And in my case, we don’t. In recent years my father and I have exchanged a handful of more-or-less random emails, but outside of these occasional communications there’s been zip, zero, nada.
See, when my mom discovered she was pregnant it was not (at least at first) what one might consider joyous news. And understandably so. She was young—nineteen—and not prepared for early motherhood. But she took it in stride, because in her heart that’s what she wanted to do. I’m sure she considered all of the options. In fact, I know she did. And on that long list of choices—of directions her life could head—she chose me.
Being a single mother was no easy ride for her—struggling to finish school, working full time to support us, being the greatest mother. But through unconditional love, hard work, and determination, she succeeded in all of it (especially the last one, in my humble opinion).
On the other hand, my father chose not to “stick around.” I won’t pretend to be able to speak to his reasons or attempts at justification. But it’s no secret that sometime in my very early childhood, he decided once and for all that he did not want to be a part of my life. He paid child support until I graduated high school, but beyond that, there was nothing. No birthday wishes. No request for photos. No “hey, how is she doing?” Not even an acknowledgment that I existed (most of the time). No matter how many times he may have thought of me all those years, this time it’s not the thought that counts. He went on to start his own family (with 3 kids who probably don’t know that, in a city not 20 miles from their home, lives a sister they may never know they have).
But it’s a small world out there and living in the same metropolitan area, we’re all bound to cross paths with friends and acquaintances who know some of the same people. This is of course the case with people who know my father. And time and time again, I meet people who are shocked to find out that I exist, or who know who my father was but never heard him utter a single word about me. We've found ourselves in the very same room on multiple occassions—at a bowling tournament, a winter carnival event, a benefit for a mutual friend. And yet, we’ve never so much as made eye contact or spoken a verbal word.
I’d be lying if I told you it doesn’t hurt sometimes that he chose not to be a part of my life. There are plenty of times I look at friends or family members with their fathers and feel a little bit of envy or sadness. There will be no father-daughter dance at my wedding. My children will have no grandfather (something that made losing Sean’s dad almost 2 years ago even more devastating).
In the grand scheme of things its small change, because I’m blessed with an incredible mother who played the role of both parents—and did it so well. She is my best friend. And I can’t help but wonder if our relationship would be different if it hadn’t been just the two of us for so many years. And for that very reason, I wouldn’t change a thing.