Father’s Day for me is a day filled with mixed emotions. My dad and I are not that very close. We are civil and warm, but our father daughter bond can be compared to one held with twine. Its there. Its holding. Put too much tension and pressure on it, and it might break loose. My dad isn’t a warm man, but as he is getting older, he’s slowly shedding that hard exterior. I think it began when I was a teen and my dad was really tough on me. I suppose all dads are, but he seemed to fly off the handle for every little thing, small offenses were major punishments. Once my sister hit her teens he realized I was the perfect kid and my sister was the one that needed an iron fist, but by that time it was too late. During my parent’s own divorce my dad became very hostile towards my mother. I not only witnessed his hostility and lashing tongue against my mother, but since I seemed to “side” with her, he also directed the same anger towards me. On one occasion his anger was laced with idle threats, and even know I knew he would never follow through, one threat cut through that twine. On that brief occasion, my father threatened my life and from that point on our loose connection was severed and I didn’t feel much for him any more.
As years went on, I grew up, I got married, had kids, then my own divorce. My father and I slowly tried to patch the gap and built up to what we have today. My dad has done a lot for me since the early days of my divorce. He helped with some of my lawyer fees, help get my house ready for the market, and then helped me find a place for the kids and I to live in. We aren’t close, but we aren’t strangers either. I do realize that now that my father is aging he is realizing that his family is all he has, and its better late than never to repair the damage done. Plus he’s a grandfather and I bore him is only granddaughter, and his second grandson. I might not be close to my dad, but I am not going to interfere with any efforts he makes to bond with his grand kids.
Father’s Day for me and my father, is one of tradition and duty. I get him a card, a gift, and we go out to breakfast or dinner. Its simple, relaxing, and respectful.
When my daughter was born Father’s Day took on a new and strange meaning. It became one to celebrate my husband as the father of my children. It wasn’t as grand as a birthday, but it definitely had more “love” and appreciation behind it. As my daughter grew I got her to make cards and drawings, put her name on the gift “we” chose for him. He seemed appreciative and happy, but since I had nothing to really compare it to, I thought it was what Father’s Day was all about.
After my now ex-husband walked out, that first Father’s Day was extremely hard on me. I felt no love or appreciation for him. I hated him. I not only wished my kid’s had a batter man as their father, but I hated myself for not doing better for them. My kids deserved a REAL man as a father. A man who doesn’t betray their mother with heinous acts of adultery, and leaving their mother destitute and unable to take on a job for medical reasons (I had just given birth). In my mind I really felt that he wasn’t good enough to be a father and I really wanted to deny him the privileges of being a father. However, deep down inside I knew that denying my ex-husband the kids wouldn’t hurt him as much as it would hurt D and S. I could not do that to them. I knew a bond with their father was an important once, if not precious, and even though I did not have that with my own father, it was by my choice. I have no right to sever the parental bond, that is theirs to cut.
Sometimes I wonder that when the kids get older and maybe more conscious of the circumstances of the divorce, if their relationship with their father will change. I think D might not change her bond, she still remains close to my ex-husband, despite a few bouts of her thinking he moved out because he was “mad” at her. I assured her he was not, but in a child’s mind I can understand how that may look. What I wonder and worry about more is S, his father left 2 weeks after he was born. In the early days of S’s life my ex-husband was packing and moving in with his “girlfriend”. Once I returned home from the hospital, his father “moved out”. In my eyes it looks like my ex-husband cared more for the “girlfriend” than bonding and nurturing his son’s infancy. To me if my father had done that, I would feel unloved and unwanted. S is oblivious to all of that know and seems to love his father, but I often wonder if and when that could change.
I guess I think about all this too much. I usually try to put it out of my mind, but on Father’s Day its too hard not too. For me Father’s Day is a sad and somber day now. Its become an annual reminder that I chose the wrong man to be the father of my kids, and I hope they forgive me for that some day.