Did someone try to reconnect with the absent dad in their 30’s?
My hand slowly raises as I confess “Yep, it was me.”
“Oh dear, why would you want to do that?” some folk asked.
Not having a valid answer at the time, I will go with my Uncles explanation, it seems logical enough. 14 years later I am still sticking with that explanation.
“You’re a parent yourself now and you want answers. As a parent, you can’t understand how another parent can walk out on their child.”
I wasn’t bothered about not having a dad when I was younger. My first day in a new school and I was branded a liar by the 7-year-old Queen bee. “What’s does your Dad do?” Queen bee asked. “I don’t have one,” I said shyly
“Everyone has a dad, you liar.” Queen bee snapped.
I told my Mum what had happened on the walk home from school. Mum replied calmly “You do have a dad, you don’t see yours.” And that was that. I didn’t ask for more information and none was forthcoming. I carried on with my life not needing or missing a dad. Mum had never slandered the invisible dad to me. In fact, she never spoke about him at all. A young single mum, not smearing the deserter is a special quality.
Not once had I ever wanted contact with my estranged dad. Why would I? I was doing well enough without him. I laughed a lot as a child, and I hadn’t murdered anybody because of the absentee. So it was all good.
What I did know about my Dad left no impression on me at all. He left when I was born. Strange though, as I was a planned pregnancy, even though my mum was 17-years-old and he was 20-years. But when I came along he changed his mind and thought he was too young.
I know, I felt sorry for him too. The poor guy. I hope he didn’t worry about it, we all understand. Someone make him a cup of tea and give him a cuddle. It must be stressful for him to be able to walk away and sleep at nights. That’s absolutely fine Mr Dad, you will never have to answer for creating a life and jumping ship.
Good job you were not in the army, or you would have gone to prison for desertion. And there were no stickers on the back of cars to prick his conscious. You know the ones “Babies are not just for Christmas.”
In all honesty, it was probably my fault anyway. I had been told I “Came out crying.”
Anyway, Daddio went off into the sunset, never to be seen again. Though that is not strictly true. He moved a 20-minute bus ride away. Relatives and extended family saw him all the time. But the cloak and dagger rules were respected, and nobody ever mentioned him in front of me.
So, if I was missing nothing, and my Mum made sure she put me on the right path in life, Why did I seek him out when I was 31? I am still sticking with my Uncle’s explanation, as I have no other.
Before the first meeting, I remember feeling sick. Was this because I was about to meet my Dad after 31-years or because I was heavily pregnant with my second child? The time was ticking, and the sick feeling was not getting better. I had not suffered from any sickness during my pregnancies. So I knew it was the pending meeting. Or was it my own unborn child warning me “Don’t do it?”
“I’m going to cancel,” I said to myself as I became light-headed.
I sat on the edge of the bed and calmed myself down. I decided to go ahead with the meeting. I was very nervous, hands sweating and biting nails. What was I going to say? What is he going to say? Why did he agree to meet me, if he had never bothered before?
This is the big moment. Breath! Slow deep breaths now. Well, at least the breathing is good practice for childbirth, even if it didn’t stop the sick feeling. I got out of my car and looked at the man sitting outside the pub. My first thought as he stood up was “Oh he’s quite small.” Oooops I nearly forgot, Breath!
The meeting lasted about an hour with a swap of phone numbers at the end. It was not everything I had anticipated. I had expected more and, I had wanted a connection. There was nothing. Where was my fairytale? No longing “I want to get to know you.” expressions.
He did inform me of his side of events. He was there at my birth but gave no explanation about where he was for the rest of my life “I was young and I wasn’t ready.” Should I have put my arm around him at that point and reassured him? Well, I didn’t. As I said, there was no connection, and there was no sympathy coming from me. I’m a bit mean like that.
The meeting was bland with no feeling from my side. Maybe it would take time to build. Over the next year, we met up a few times, always with his wife. There were phone calls, but he was not allowed to call when his wife was present. And phone calls between us had to take place before his favourite show.
Are you F**cking serious?
All these rules. Where’s my missed time? I explained my children’s bedtime routine was at the time he wanted to call. He would not compromise on his programme watching. So I changed things around a little in my routine. I know, it seems desperate.
So the next year of trying to build a relationship went like this.
He was always intoxicated when we met. He was not interested in his grandchildren. Mainly because the routine I had for my children interfered with drinking sessions. He was hours late to every meeting.
I had arranged for Daddy and his wife to come for dinner one night. They turned up 4 hours late and drunk. I left them with some photo albums while I made dinner, constantly telling myself to “Play nice.” I continued to prep dinner while overhearing their conversation.
“I wish we knew her when she lived in St.Lucia.” “I wish we knew her when she lived in London or when she worked on the cruise ships, we could have had a discount.”
OUCH…FUCKING… OUCH! That stung. That really hurt. Hold on a second while a pull that sting of pain out of my heart.
Now I am sure at this point you may be wondering why I didn’t put arsenic or a laxative into their food? Truthfully, I didn’t have any. Note to self “Shop better, next time.”
So I did the next best thing, I became sarcastic: “It would have been nice if you wished you had known me when I was a child.”
I was quickly informed I was being “Too sensitive.” Then the questions came firing “How come you travelled so much? How much money did you earn in London?” And so on. Then it came out of the horse’s mouth, not that I am saying Daddio or the wife looked like a horse. “We expected you to be into drugs or something.” And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen.
The Real Issue For The Estranged Dad.
How has a girl with no dad, brought up on a council estate with a teenage mum managed to “Travel the world more than once?” No drugs or teenage pregnancies and had a successful career? I am not kidding when I say he was disappointed with my choice not to be on drugs. Pissed off that I had travelled the world and lived in beautiful places. Even more pissed off that I chose not to have a big screen T.V. because I wanted to be the one raising my own children.
I realised I am still having to focus my breathing with this man. Excuse me? No, do not excuse me at all. My answer came out calmly to my surprise.
“So, because Daddy chose not to bring me up. It was a teenager who brought me up, you expected me to be in a gutter drugged up with a needle in my arm crying for Daddy. Was I supposed to wait for you to save me? Did you expect my mother to fail because you were not there?
Jeez, I’m sorry I did not give a sob story about a lack of a parent, but I do not see it as a disadvantage. In fact, in comparison to your other daughter, I can only say that she is worse off having you being her Dad. Do you think that much of yourself as a contributor to life, that because you contributed nothing to mine, that I would amount to nothing? All I can say is I am glad my Mum is who she is. Because the backbone, character and good looks certainly do not come from you.”
Please pick up your ass, walk over to the front door and close it behind you on your way out.” A few days later I received an email from my half-sister “Dad is waiting for you to apologise, he is so stubborn. He said you have to contact him first.”
Without much thought, I emailed back “He will be waiting a lot longer than 31 years this time.”
That was the end of all contact with the biological dad. Never heard from him again, or any of his family. Oh yes, I felt that one. That stung my ego, I felt the stab to the chest. The ego did a dramatic tumble. The reason him turning his back on me the second time hurt so much, was because I was fully aware of the rejection in my 30’s. I was not aware of his rejection as a baby.
He was supposed to be all singing and dancing to have me in his life. The daughter he had always wanted to know. In reality, I was a disturbance he did not want. Extra people to fit into a social life that was an inconvenience.
Yes, I cried over it. Why did he not want to know me? And the biggest question of all for me “What on earth is this self-pity I was portraying?” Yuck, self-pity, not a fan of it. Self-pity is not attractive, it is pathetic. It took a couple of weeks but I got over it. I realised it was the rejection that hurt. Being rejected by anyone hurts. That’s human nature.
But on reflection, I didn’t even like him. He was selfish, materialistic and cowardly.
His opinion of me “She needs to be brought down a peg or two.” Did I learn anything from this? I have asked myself this question a lot. Because I know in every situation, there is a lesson.
So, what did I learn?
My mum is one exceptional person. To do everything she has done for me and put me on the right path. My mum retaliated by pushing me to be the best person I can be. Never placing blame but focusing on me “not making the same mistakes.” as she did. Teaching me life lessons and never allowing me to make excuses for anything.
I did not appreciate that back then. I certainly do now. What a lottery for me to have the Mother she is and the father she became.