Father’s Day was two days ago and I’ve come to the realization I have an unhealthy relationship with parental holidays. For years, Mother’s Day depressed me. I even wrote about it here. I’ve progressed to pretty much making peace with that holiday. Although, there was a setback this year that I may or may not discuss at a later date. Father’s Day, though not as bad, is hard as well. I have no problem celebrating my husband and his parentage. That’s easy; he’s a good Dad. However, my relationship with my Father and Step Father, that’s another story. My biological Father and Mother divorced when I was very young. He had little to no contact with me until I was nearly 30. My Step Father, the man who helped raise me, wasn’t a bad Father. He was a good provider and solid guy until my Mother passed away. After that, it all went to hell in a handbasket. He ended up getting remarried to a wonderful woman whom my children call Granny and who I always thought was too good for him.
Now, having explained my situation, imagine how hard it is to find a card that’s appropriate. Hallmark and American Greetings do not make cards that say things like “Thanks for raising me and finding a lady better than my own Mother” or “Thanks for knocking up Mom all those years ago. I’m glad I’m alive”. No, the cards usually say nice things about how Dad is the person who loved you and guided you and led the family. There are usually phrases about sacrifice and strength. And, if you go the funny route, there are comments about dealing with the kids during the teen years and potty training or how we’ll all stop asking for money when you die. But, here’s my problem, I can’t identify with any of these things. I never asked anyone for money – not even as a teen. I had a job when I was 13. If I didn’t have money, I wasn’t going to get anything from my parental units. I was already potty trained when my Step Dad showed up and my Mother forbade him from disciplining me – which sucked because he was fairer than she was. I can’t send my biological Father these types of cards because he had no part in my upbringing. I know I could easily suck it up and buy the card but its such a lie and so disingenuous. How the hell can I say thanks for leading me when he led nothing? And, yet, since I have established a relationship with him several years ago, I feel like I have to participate in the facade of appreciating him as a Father.
In the years since I reestablished contact, my biological Father has been somewhat present but I see a difference between his role with me and his role with the children he helped raise with his wife of nearly 40 years. Part of that is geography, as those children live in the same city. But, part of it is a connection. He won’t admit it. I doubt my half siblings will either. Yet, I see it. I don’t truly blame them. How can you have a connection with someone instantly, regardless of DNA? They have a history I simply don’t and never will have. Could more of a connection have been established in the past? Absolutely, but that is the past and nothing can be done about the past. One must deal with the now. I wish I could come to him with my feelings and he would understand my perspective. Yet, I know him enough to know he’s a simple, straight forward type of guy and it would probably hurt his feelings. So, instead of mailing a heartfelt card and thoughtful gift, I bought a generic “Hope your Father’s Day was great” card along with a gift certificate and hoped for the best. I’ll probably continue to do this until he passes and it becomes a non-issue, much like my Step Dad. It’s sad but it’s the path of least resistance and it saves me from an uncomfortable and possibly hurtful conversation.
I do know one thing. If my husband and I get divorced or I die, he better be the good Dad he’s always been or he’s going to have to deal with a very mad ex-wife or even madder ghost.