I never liked Father’s Day for the sheer fact that it often fell on my birthday, and that was a day I never liked to share. The first time I remember it happening, I was 12 and I was forced to go spend the day with my Dad, Mom and younger brother at a friend of my Dad’s house for a cookout. As we all know, 12 is a big age to be accepted by your peers, and birthdays were a big time to shine. I liked being the center of attention and hated that I had to share my day with a man who was absent most of my life.
Growing up, my Dad worked a lot. He was successful so it always seemed fine that he wasn’t around much. I was able to do things that I wanted to do and overall had a good childhood. My Mom did all of the everyday parenting, including taking my brother and I to school, packing our lunches and setting up playdates with friends. My Dad was always there for sporting events but other than that spent the majority of the weekend sleeping in and controlling the family room television with pre-recorded sports and soap operas. This was the only way my brother and I were able to spend time with him, so I attempted a vested interest in the Chicago Bulls and San Francisco 49ers as a way to form a relationship with my Dad. I very quickly realized that didn’t give me the father/daughter relationship I had long hoped for as a child and into my teenage years.
To the month, it has been 10 years since I’ve seen my biological father. My parent’s relationship went from bad to worse and after two years of a long and drawn out ordeal, they finally divorced. In the beginning, my Dad attempted a relationship with my brother and I. No joint custody was ever arranged and with that the weekly dinners began to fade from once a week to once a month. Over time, communication went to a call or email on birthdays and holidays and, for the past five years, it has now ceased to nothing.
The holidays can be very difficult – Father’s Day in particular. For years, I avoided the holiday all together and cracked it up to be a joke, always resorting back to using my humor as a defense mechanism. I resorted to the “daddy issues” and told myself I didn’t care that I had stopped hearing from my biological father.
Over time, and through a lot of therapy and unsent letters, I have learned to cope by surrounding myself with supportive friends and family. I celebrate my mother for each holiday considering she has always played both roles. I continually work to remind myself that while experiencing this loss was hard and will continue to be difficult for the rest of my life, it has only defined who I am today, truly making me a stronger and more capable person. I find solitude with friends who I consider family and have recreated this idea of “Father’s Day” as a day I dread into a day that I can celebrate the important men and women who have positively impacted my life.