Father’s Day is that special time of the year when we honor the most important men in our lives. The men who have raised us, inspired us, and taught us so much. As someone who did not grow up with their biological father in the home, this day has meant something a little different to me than it does to others. All children have a father but, unfortunately each year fewer children experience what it is like to have a dad. This sad fact has also brought challenges for many dads to have the knowledge of raising a child because they missed out on the experiences in their own upbringing. I’m sure a few others can relate.
As a very young child, I would see my biological dad periodically each year, if that. Since I was so young, I did not really have a full understanding of the situation. All I knew was I was born illegitimately and he didn’t want me. The brief time I spent living with him later on was nothing short of a nightmare. The man who I innocently called dad, was not at all what a dad should be. At a time in life when a young boy is becoming a young man, a father’s love and guidance is crucial. I received the opposite.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve learned about what happened between my parents. They had their differences like a lot of people, and decided the best thing for both of them would be to go their separate ways before trying to work on things again. When they separated, I was about one year old so I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know the circumstances or even what it really meant. I spent a long period of time thinking that I was the reason my parents separated. I thought my father didn’t want me, I wasn’t good enough, and that was why he felt like he had to leave. That feeling eventually went away the older I got. Unfortunately, it was replaced by anger…
I was angry at my biological dad. I was angry he wasn’t around. I was angry he didn’t want to spend time with me. I was angry at myself for being angry. I didn’t understand why many of my friends could call their dads and have a conversation. I didn’t understand why many of my friends had their dads at their sporting events or graduations but I couldn’t. It just seemed so easy and logical to feel that way. I didn’t know how to deal with his desertion, anger felt like the only way out. I shouldn’t have let this affect me the way it did. All I ever wanted from him was his time, but I couldn’t even get a second.
I remember hearing over the school intercom one morning how there was going to be a father-son dinner and many other father-son activities. I was sad. I wanted to attend it with my friends and their dads, but realized that I could not participate because my father did not live with us and we did not even know where he was at that time. That memory has stuck with me for years.
I spent the past few Father’s Days reflecting on what being a father really means to me. Because of who my father was, I wanted to be different. I wanted to be better. My beautiful daughter has given me an opportunity to be a better father than my own. I want to teach her to be fearless and to be able to face whatever challenges life throws her way. To show up no matter how tough things get, and that all things are possible if you keep getting back up.
My biological father was not someone worth imitating. However, there were certain influential men who stood up as positive role models in my life. To those men, I would like to thank you for your guidance and compassion.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!