Until this year, I’ve hated Father’s Day. That Sunday in June when marketers peddle BBQs, shavers and ties is an annual reminder of the crappy dads in my life.
My dad was extremely abusive. I don’t want to get into all the disturbing specifics, but the man could be in jail. His erratic mood swings and desire for full control were his kinder forms of abuse. Growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out of the house just to get away from him.
About 10 years ago, I finally got sick of being a victim and I cut all ties with him. I felt extreme guilt about doing that. I kept hoping he’d change and become the dad I’d always hoped for. But that day never came and the abuse continued. Enough was enough.
I thought I’d done a good job of recognizing my dad’s patterns and emotionally detaching myself from him. So when I got married at the age of 20, I had myself convinced that I’d chosen someone who was the exact opposite of my father. No such luck. I married an alcoholic who left after 12 years of marriage. Our daughter, Rory, was 20-months-old. He stopped showing up to see her almost four years ago.
So, yeah, Father’s Day has been a tough one in our household. When she was little, Rory would wonder why she doesn’t have a dad. She’d ask me: “What did I do wrong, Mama? Why doesn’t my dad love me?” Those questions were gut-wrenching.
At school and daycare, Rory always has to make something for Father’s Day. She chooses to give those gifts to me. Cards in the shape of ties, BBQ aprons, painted beer glasses…I have them all. While the fact she saw me in both roles was sweet, my heart also broke that she didn’t have a dad in her life. She was craving that male role model.
This year, life is a lot different. I’m getting married in August to a man who is both strong in character and a fantastic father. Rory couldn’t be happier. Right after Rory met him, she said “Mama, I think Todd is the right guy for you.” She now tells everyone that she gets both a dad and a brother (Todd’s son is 11) out of this deal. She already introduces Todd as “my dad.”
So my usual loathing of Father’s Day has softened. Rory is going to make Todd a present. But other than that, I have no idea how Sunday will unfold. I have worked so hard to forget the day altogether for years. I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to do! But I’ll definitely make sure we have cold beers in the fridge so I can toast the incredible father in my daughter’s life.
Is Father’s Day difficult for you?