‘Happy Fathers Day Dads! AND to all those who take on the role. Have a fab day x’
’Laid in the bath thinking about ‘fatherhood’. Wonder if my biological male parent even remember he has children any more. Thankful tho that I get to have lunch today with the person who IS my dad, and who does all the things a Dad should, and none of the thing they shouldn’t.’
‘My biological father was and probably still is (who knows) a violently abusive person, and the kind that makes me pleased divorce exists.’
Above are the tweets I tweeted today, regarding ‘Fathers Day’. For non UK readers, we have days that celebrate ‘fathers’. (We also have a ‘Mothers day, but that is usually in April).
So, today, – it is still today as I write but by the time I press publish it will be well into the next day – , today is the 17th June 2012. Fathers Day. The 27th Fathers Day I have been alive for.
And as always, it is a bitter sweet day. In years past, it was often a bitter day … in as much as it was always an unhappy one. As the years went by, they became a mix of emotion, half and half off bitterness/sweetness, and then over the last few years, the days have been filled more with sweetness than the bitter, but still they are always always tinged with a little bit of sadness somewhere.
(side note: i use the word ‘bitter’ loosely, to describe a huge amount of emotions. So when I write that word, i mean unhappiness, sadness, pain, hurt, anger and more … not necessarily ‘bitter’ per se, but I am just coining the phrase)
As the clocked ticked over into today, I was awake, as per usual at this time of night, and my first thought was to wish those of you on twitter who are dads a ‘happy fathers day’. And as always, I include those who take on that role. I truly believe you don’t have to be a biological father to someone to be their ‘dad’. You don’t even have to be a ‘step parent’. You just need to be that person who plays a fatherly role in the life of someone. Someone who need’s it. Which is why I always always think it is so important, that if, as some churches do, your giving out ‘presents’ in large groups to people who are ‘fathers’ you don’t make it exclusive to those who have biologically connected children. Anyway, so my first tweet was one of celebration. I went to bed thinking about the attributes of a Father. The attributes I would pray any man I ever had children with would have. The attributes that anyone who is in a position or role of being a father figure should have.
(The most profound Fathers Day sermon I ever have heard was a few years ago, and I don’t even remember where it was now, but it encouraged ALL the men in the room to stand and be counted. It encouraged ALL men to be fathers. It said that you don’t have to donate your sperm to be a role model, to be involved in the life of someone who so needs it, to be that person who can teach someone about life, to be that person who is fatherly. I remember being tearful watching the men around me stand and be counted)
So, I stand by my first tweet. I wished and still do wish that anyone who is a Dad, biologically or not, had a wonderful day.
When I got up this morning, I went and laid in the bath, for a long time. A very long time. In fact far too long, however i dont suppose you really need to know that do you? as usual, I had filled the bath with lots of bubbles, and had taken a book into the bathroom with me. As usual I got deeply distracted by my phone (one day i’ll end up dropping it) …
So there I laid, in the bath, reading twitter on my phone … and there were the most profound tweets being tweeted. By what seemed like everyone. My whole timeline seemed full of tweets about Fathers Day. What an array of messages. What an array of varied messages. Some beautiful, heartfelt and meant ones, wishing their dads, and those who take on that role a great day. And some messages and tweets acknowledging and reminding people, that actually, for some, today, this day is hard. Painful. Tough. Emotional.
I am not alone in having a biological father, who wasn’t all that he should have been. Although sometimes I wonder if i even know what that ‘should have been’ even means. I used to dread Fathers Day. Especially, when as a younger child, there was a unsaid rule that I was to ‘buy and send’ a card. Or when in primary school, we were expecting to ‘make’ a card. I would do it, but then throw it in the bin on the way home, if possible. I am not alone in finding today tough in so so many ways. Up until a few years ago, I used to dread it. The expectation of having to do something/send something/think something I didnt mean was tough.
Every year Fathers Day means something different to me. It brings up different thoughts. This mornings was ‘I wonder if my biological father even remembers i exist. All the signs over the last couple of years would suggest he does not. Or that he chooses not to. Choose not to entertain the fact he has children. Two of them. I guess thats his choice. There is not anything I can do about it. And however much I try not to dwell on it, and I try very hard, it hurts. It really hurts. Even though he was violent. And abusive. And I am glad my mum divorced him. I know that, especially in christian communities it can be a controversial topic. I dont care.
As one of my tweets today says … ‘‘My biological father was and probably still is (who knows) a violently abusive person, and the kind that makes me pleased divorce exists.’
I am glad they divorced. If things were bad while the were married, and while I had to as a child growing up endure ‘visits’ approved by courts during holidays, they would have been even worse if they remained married. I dread to think.
I am glad that he moved to a different country, and that I don’t have much to do with him, or that i have to ‘pretend’ to even like him, however much i pretend that I am ok with the fact he is not in my life, actually, being brutally honest, it stings. Sometimes it still stings that he thinks so little of his children that he would be happy to have no contact.
A day like today rises up the issues of pain, anger, hurt and much more. That he would treat us the way he did. That he would behave the way he did, and that he would still behave the way he does, even though it obviously is in a much less physical way.
The way my biological father behaved towards my brother and I, brutally harmed the way we see ‘fatherhood’. The way we relate to men. The way we accept love. I’m often not sure what my father has done for apart from assist in my birth, but actually, one thing I am sure of that he did was ruin our perceptions of the things a father should do/be.
I could write on for a long time about the impact of my fathers actions on my life, and the life of my brother. But you may get bored. Suffice to say, its impacted me, largely. And so I guess you get a glimpse of some of the destruction that he has strewn into our lives by reading my blog and getting to know me.
Although, it is fair to say, and I want to make this clear, I have come a long way with dealing with some of those issues. Dont get me wrong, they sometimes dwell in my mind, sometimes in a big way, sometimes in a small way, but i’m on a journey of working through it, and have come a heck of a long way …
Anyway, moving on … because this is not meant to be a blog just about my woefully inadequate biological father. I mentioned the bitter/sweet thing. And I guess the above addresses the bitter bit. The sad bit. The painful bit. But there is a ‘sweet’ part. And over the years I have become more and more able to recognise that and celebrate that with others who have known nothing other than family joy on a day celebrating fathers.
‘Thankful tho that I get to have lunch today with the person who IS my dad, and who does all the things a Dad should, and none of the thing they shouldn’t.’
the above is the second part of the tweet i wrote whilst laid in the bath contemplating.
As the years go by, and as I get older, and as I am able to process my childhood/past experienced more effectively, and as I learn what was wrong, and as i deal with that, I also get closer and closer to the person in my life who represents ‘Dad’.
I know I am extrememly blessed. At the same time as remembering that hasnt always been the case, and isnt the case for many many people.
I AM lucky, and fortunate that many years ago, my mother remarried. She married someone she loves deeply, and who deeply loves her. And us. Someone, who despite being an affirmed bathchlor until he was 50 took on 2 children, one a wayward teenager and one about to enter that stage. No mean feat. Fair to say he went grey haired very quickly! Over the years, as I’ve learned to deal with my issues, as the ‘bitterness’ has slowly faded my love for my ‘step’ has grown.
Yes he drives me mad sometimes. I reckon I drive him mad too. But I reckon that is pretty normal …
My step is someone who does all the things that a ‘Father’ should do, and none of the things they shouldnt. He does not abuse me. He does do any of the horrors that should not happen. He DOES turn up in the middle of the night when I ring ‘home’ to tell them I cant breathe. He does turn up at the house with bags of shopping every now and then. He has helped me pay for driving lessons. He has paid for a hotel room so I could join him and my mum on a long weekend away with them. He has done many many other things. I could write forever about them.
Im thankful, that despite his eccentricities, I was able to go for lunch with him today, and give him a little present, which expresses my gratitude and love for him. I hope he realises the verses in the card are meant, so much.
I hope I have managed to stay on topic, somehow. And somehow explain why I used the ‘bitter/sweet’ phrase as a title for this blog.
I hope it sums up a little bit of why, for me, today is bittersweet. It always is. Maybe it always will be. It is a day of such overwhelming emotion, happy and sad. Bitter and sweet.
Anyway … enough of me rambling on …
IF today has been a day of rejoicing, celebration, happiness and gladness, that I am glad. If you have a Dad, a biological one, or one who takes on the role, as a step, or as a role model, or as a male figure in your life, I hope you have been able to/have enjoyed spending time with them/or celebrating them in some way. I join you in wishing those people Happy Fathers Day. In fact I wish my own stepdad, and one or two other very special people in my life Happy Fathers Day.
IF today has been a day of remembering loved and lost ones, then I hope in your grief you have been able to remember the good times.
IF today has been a day of pain, hurt, sadness, anger, darkness or any other negative emotion and IF today has done nothing but remind of someone you have never had, or of someone who has hurt you beyond your wildest dreams then I am sorry.
I have been thinking of you today.