Every year leading up to Mother’s Day, we are inundated with public service announcements about being mindful; mindful of women who had miscarriages, women with fertility issues, those who have lost their moms, etc. I think these are great reminders. I love that we are encouraged to be considerate. However, I have never seen one surrounding Father’s Day. Perhaps it is because men don’t physically carry a child so we don’t associate many of those situations with dads.
The one I will usually see, understandably, is consideration for and sadness expressed by those whose fathers have passed away. I do not mean to take away from their loss, AT ALL, but I wanted to write this to shed light on another group that struggles with lots of emotions on Father’s Day—the ones who lost dads that are still alive. I have mourned my dad already and, to my knowledge, he has not passed away.
When I used to look back on my childhood, I thought myself lucky. Despite my parents being divorced, my dad was always included in things and, for the most part, he showed up for them all. But, as I started to get older, he started showing up less and less until he completely shut himself out of my life once I was an adult, married, with a child of my own. Clearly, those times he showed up in my childhood were because he felt like he had too. If it had been because he wanted to, he would still be showing up now.
Father’s day is hard for me. I am grateful that as a mom, I get to celebrate my own husband today. He deserves all of it! But seeing posts from adult friends about their fathers and reading the heartfelt messages they share, stings. When I go to weddings and watch the bride dance with her dad, I, like so many, tear up. But, for me, it is more than just about the present moment. I tear up because I feel that void again. I realize that the bond they share is something I have never, and will never, truly understand. I did dance with my father at my wedding and it is the one thing about that day I would change if I could. It was forced, contrived, fake. I can’t even look at pictures of that moment without feeling resentment and a bit of anger.
I know I sound bitter, but truthfully, I am not. I will always carry the hurt that he caused, but it has not turned me cold. I was blessed with a grandfather who filled those shoes in my life better than my own dad ever could have. He was the one I wanted to dance with when I got married, but he did not live to see that day. Now, in my adult life, I have a husband who loves me deeper than I ever thought a man could. He is an incredible dad to our boys and he has helped me overcome so many trust issues that I harbored from my childhood.
But days like today are hard. I don’t really miss him, but I am saddened by the fact that I don’t even know where he is. I couldn’t reach out if I wanted to. My sister and I have to think about how we will explain his absence to our own children when they, inevitably, ask why they don’t have a grandpa. He chose to walk away and that is a hurt you can never understand unless you have lived it. So, if like me, you face hurts and demons on days like today, I see you and I understand what you are going through.