All the advertisements, television shows and people in general constantly talk about Fathers Day. All this day reminds me of, is the failing hope and unrealistic expectations I have always had for my father and me.
Church...oh how I dread going to church on Father Day. Everyone talks about their fathers and the wonderful relationships they have with their fathers. The happy memories they've shared and made with their fathers. Actually if this isn't ironic... last Fathers Day my entire family was asked to talk in church....about the "roles of fathers." It was both of my teenagers first experience speaking in public and they were SO mad at me. They were ticked because we didn't tell them NO when they asked if we'd all speak. Personally I thought if I had to do it, everyone should have to. And of all weekends to have me speak...and about FATHERS of all things! To have to stand in front of everyone and profess the wonderful nature of "fathers" and how we should celebrate them on this day when inside I am sad and hate the relationship I have with my own dad!
However, I tried to focus on my husband and his own father. They have a great relationship and thankfully my husband is a GREAT dad. Actually, when I was dating my husband, I was so touched by the close relationship he had with his dad and his dad had with his dad. It was something I did not know personally and hoped my own children would have with my husband. I've often shared that this special example he had shown me was one of the reasons I married him.
But I could not talk in church about fathers without talking about my own experience with my dad. How very hard this was for me. Why? Because, our relationship for the past four years has pretty much sucked rocks! Oh it hasn't been roses over the years, but the past four years is what I'm focused on these days. Would you believe that four years ago, on Fathers Day in fact, I sent a short email to my dad wishing him a Happy Fathers Day...nothing overwhelmingly mushy or heartfelt...just short and to the point (I think). It was the response I received that set the following four years in motion. My dad responded with something to the affect of "I can't deal with the guilt anymore and I don't want anything to do with you any more."
Yes the response hurt and the fact that we haven't spoken in four years continues to be on my mind...even more today then ever! I of course disposed of the email after letting it eat me up for days, but the way I felt after reading it will forever be with me. But in retrospect I wasn't surprised and in a way, I was relieved. I didn't have to work on a relationship with my father anymore...one that had always been strained. I could lower my expectations for who my father should be and stop worrying about how that very dysfunctional relationship could potentially affect my own children. But it still hurt.
A little background...my mother and father were divorced when I was in 5th grade. At the time I did not have any friends with divorced parents, in fact the only person I knew that I could talk to that would relate to what I was going through was my school teacher (the very cool Miss R). Like with all children from divorced parents, there were personal struggles and challenges. Don't worry though, I was not a VICTIM and if anything it made me a better person. I could think of much worse things to experience. And still to this day, I hate it when people label my family as broken... I know a lot of couples that have stayed together and I don't think they're any less broken then my family was. Stupid label anyway!
Over the years my dad was in and out of my life. I always figured he loved me, but I often times missed the man I thought he could be. Many times I wished so much to have the relationship with him that I "thought" daughters and fathers should have. I strived to be accepted by him and in turn, accept him for what he was willing and able to offer. That truly was the most difficult part and solely my responsibility. But even at 41 I struggle with accepting him and accepting our relationship (which I suppose is in a way "broken").
Funny thing...I thought even though my dad never seemed to want to be with me, know me, love me. I thought for sure he'd want what I never had in our relationship with my own chilren. What grandparent wouldn't want to know and be with his grand kids? I was wrong. But they won't have to grow up "watching the door" for him to show up when he said he would and then he doesn't (happened so often to me and my brother...I lost count).
I was sure after becoming an adult that I would need years of therapy to cope with my daddy issues. But years ago after meeting with a therapist she was surprised how well adjusted I was and how good my attitude about my dad was. I would tell her about this broken relationship, about my dad and then I'd say, "my dad sucks at being my dad, but I love him." That got a stamp of approval from my therapist...go figure.
Don't be mistaken, I do love my dad and yes I love the idea of having a dad (probably the root of all my issues). I did have some fun, beautiful childhood memories of my dad that I cling to tightly and that I'm very grateful for. I do believe my dad influenced me positively at times and his guidance did influence the person I am today. Sure I would love to hug my dad, see him, talk to him. But our relationship has always taken so much work and we have struggled over the years to make it work...one of us was bound to give up. I suppose it's easier to respect his desire to be left alone. But today it makes me sad and guilty all in once. So that's a very short reason why "I hate Fathers Day."