“Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important.” -President Barack Obama
Father’s Day was a day that usually went unnoticed in my house, as did in many households where a woman was commander-in-chief. Tomorrow, it might not be surprising that among expected trending words like #daddy, #father, and #dad, we might see #mom rise up in numbers as some self-proclaimed Super Moms get praise from their children or give themselves credit for raising their children all alone. Don’t you just love reading those? I want to wish myself a Happy Father’s Day ’cause I make miracles every Thanksgiving!
I think my mom did a damn good job raising me but I never felt the need to thank her for being mom and dad or acknowledge her on Father’s Day, because quite frankly, only a man can be a father. That’s not to come at same-sex households, but I always wondered how a woman can raise a boy to be something she’s never been herself?
But I’m getting off topic here. I don’t want to focus on absentee fathers, same-sex parenting, or single motherhood; I just want to tell you my story.
For a long time, I felt that whenever the time came for me to get married, I wouldn’t ask my father to walk me down the aisle. That would be my way of hurting him, embarrasing him for not being there for me as a child. I battled long and hard trying to convince myself that he didn’t deserve that honor. That it would hurt my mother to see him beaming down the aisle, ‘giving’ me away when really he shouldn’t be given any credit for raising me. Anger and resentment had accumulated for the years that he so easily let pass. For example, my teenage years, when I wore low cut shirts and was starved for a man to tell me ‘I love you’ and not expect anything in return. Or when I felt my mother was being unreasonably strict or paranoid by not allowing me to go to dances or the prom; I longed for someone to balance her character out. There are countless examples of when I distinctly remember thinking it would have been nice to have a father around. But I can’t dwell on the past anymore.
At this age, I have to say that although my father hasn’t been there for most of my childhood, he’s shown up in 2 instances in my life that were vital. No, that won’t replace the emotional absence, the lack of genuine connection, the many milestones that have come and go, but it still shows that he’s put some effort forth. And I accept that. I don’t want to go through life mourning a father figure who’s not dead. I’m not making excuses for him, but the fact is he’s just not the type of father I expected him to be. And maybe he never will be.
I’ve always hidden behind the excuse that he’s the father and I’m the child, he should make more effort. That doesn’t hold up so much now that I’m an adult as well. I believe one way to measure maturity is the big F word: Forgiveness. It doesn’t mean I still don’t think about the kind of woman I would’ve been being raised with 2 parents, and it doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my kids having a relationship with abuelito (grandpa). What it does mean is that I don’t try to retaliate in a way that will only beget more hurt. Keeping my father out of my wedding will ultimately hurt me more than anyone else. I’ve resolved instead to change my perspective. To react in a way that may not make sense to most people; I’m going to accept my father for who he is presently, and stop judging him for who he hasn’t been. I believe that’s what God requires of all of us at some point in life.
So there you have it folks, my open letter on Father’s Day.
What perspective-changing lesson have you learned from your father (absent or present)?