Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why I'm Not Thrilled About Fathers Day

I've decided this year that I'm not a fan of Fathers Day, not the least reason of which is that I can't decide if it is a plural or possessive ... or a plural possessive. Anyway, I'm writing it without the apostrophe.

I just called my father to wish him a happy Fathers Day, and it was just a reminder of how peripheral we are to each others' lives. My father knows little to nothing about my life, and I know little to nothing about his. It's not that I don't love him--I do, very much--it's just that ... we don't know each other, we haven't known each other for years, and it's just very awkward.

During the period of time my parents divorced, my father was not at his best (nor was my mother, but that's a different story). For a few years there, my childhood was pretty miserable. There is plenty of blame to go around, and I am well aware of that.

What ended up happening is that my mother ended up meeting and marrying a wonderful, caring, sane, supportive, loving man. I had the best stepfather in the world, and I mean no offense to my father, but my stepdad knew me, my stepdad loved me in spite of my faults instead of throwing it in my face like my mother did or pretending nothing was ever wrong like my father did. I could count on my stepdad to do what he said he would, be where he said he'd be, and so on.

And so, when I hear the word "father", when I look at the dictionary definition, it is my stepfather that fills my mind.

My stepdad died of lung cancer in 2004. My dad came to the visiting hours, and he also played the bagpipes at the funeral when my mom asked him to. I think he was paying homage to the man that had salvaged his children from the brink.

I want to be close to my father, I really do, but I don't know how at this late date. Anyway, the girls and I are going to visit him next weekend, so hopefully that's a step.

Then, of course, there is the complexity of making the holiday meaningful for my daughters.

Belle and I went to lunch with Pythagorus. It was supposed to be a more extensive outing (it didn't last an hour). It wasn't. C'est la vie, I guess, but still really sad.

I don't talk much about Addie's father on here, but in a nutshell, he was my high school boyfriend, I lied to the doctor about not being on birth control when I was getting antibiotics for a sinus infection (my mom was in the room), and I ended up getting pregnant. There have been ups and downs over the years, but I have to give that guy credit.

We had a horrible encounter where I basically begged him to just leave Addie alone--you can't just blow a kid off for half her life and then want her to fly to Tennessee from New Hampshire by herself to visit with essentially a total stranger.

He listened. Although he was in a place where he was prepared to have a relationship with Addie, he understood that he had never been part of her life and it wasn't fair to push himself on her. They talk on the phone. He sends her birthday and Christmas presents. He paid half her car insurance. He sees her every year or two (he's special ops in the military, so he's not exactly just around the corner).

And you know the most powerful part? I have received a Mothers Day card from him every year.

That's classy.

Has Addie called him today? I don't know (I tend to stay out of stuff like that because it's her life and she's old enough to make her own decisions about that kind of thing). I hope she has. I know that I wrote, "Happy Fathers Day!" on his Facebook wall, and I meant it.

Where I'm at right now, all I can think of are how sad father/daughter relationships often are--my own, my daughters' (well, Belle, at least), and all over the world.

I hope that all the fathers out there have a great Fathers Day ... I'll get over myself on this one pretty soon. In fact, just writing all this down has made me feel better :-)