My kids are lucky. I am lucky. They have an amazing father and I have a wonderful husband. And I am sometimes confused about how this happened. They say that girls often marry men that remind them of their fathers. That may be true, but I did not HAVE a father in my life, so how on earth did I end up with such a fabulous guy??
My mom left my dad when I was seven years old. My mom and grandmother packed up the house, and all four of us kids and we essentially did a fly by night and were out of the house in one day. I was the oldest and so I think of all of us, I was the only one who really knew what was going on. Although to this day, I have yet to get a really good reason as to why she left him. I think a lot of it had to do with my very controlling grandmother, her dislike of all men in general and my mother's need to always please her mother and do everything her way.
So one day I had a dad and the next I did not. I know we must have had our 'dad' time with him after they were separated, but I don't remember much of it. I do remember the day I decided never to speak to him ever again. I was twelve years old, we were in his truck, I must have been fighting with my brothers, because all I remember is him grabbing my hair at the back of my head and pulling it (in what was probably frustration at dealing with 3 out of 4 kids on his own). There were most likely words exchanged, but 26 years later, I can't remember what they were. What I do know is that THAT day was the last time I considered him my dad.
My mom did a great job raising four kids as a single parent. She had help from my grandmother and some amazing family friends and even though we struggled through more years than I care to remember, we all turned out pretty darn well. And all through those years, my father never made contact with me, never paid my mother a cent in child support, remarried a month after their divorce was finalized and then had a new family to call his own.
My siblings somehow managed to maintain a relationship with him and my brother Desmond even went to live with him for a few months when he was about 12 years old. My dad was a rancher and so was my brother (even at such a young age, he always knew who he was) and they were close. I think I was jealous of their bond, but I still could not forgive my father for what he did and also for what he did NOT do for us and for my mom.
The next time that I spoke to my father was the day of Desmond's funeral in August of 1993. And even on that day, we barely had more than a few words to say to each other. It had been more than 10 years and the man in front of me that day may have been Desmond's dad, but he was a stranger to me. He gave me a card that day, which, when I think back, may have been his way of trying to reach out to me. I did not respond.
Fast forward another 10 years and I was getting married. Ben and I had a rule for invitees to the wedding. You had to have had a significant impact on our lives, either together or apart, to be invited and because he had never even tried to know me as a kid or an adult, I saw no reason to invite my father to celebrate this day with us.
Another three years passed and then we had our first child. Having kids makes one re-evaluate everything in your life and I was no exception. I want my kids to know who and where they come from and I have tried to open up a dialogue with my father (with the help of my sister, who has somehow over the years developed a healthy relationship with him). I have sent him emails and photos of the kids. He has met my son once and has yet to meet my daughter. He sends Christmas presents every year, but that is about it. I think that a relationship with my father or for my kids with their grandfather is just not in the cards for us.
And I think that I am OK with that. I know now that the break up of my parents marriage had more to do with my grandmother than with them (how sad it that?). I blamed him for years for not supporting us, for going off and getting a new family and supporting THEM. I told myself that I was the KID, why did I have to make the first move--he was the PARENT for goodness sakes!
But here is the thing. I turned out OK, so did my brother and sister. My mom is remarried and just celebrated her 20th anniversary with my step-dad. And despite my lack of a 'father-figure' growing up, I married an amazing man, who is also the most incredible father to our kids.
I don't know why my father was not up to being my dad, and I don't think I will ever get the answer I want or need. I will just have to let it go, forgive him for his short comings as MY dad and be thankful that he at least found a way to be one for my sister. I will never have that special father-daughter relationship, but I do get the next best thing and that is to see that relationship through my daughter's eyes with the most special man in both of our lives!
Love and forgiveness all around, Natasha~