This is a little odd for me, but I want to talk about a father that many people I know say is a wonderful Dad.
For the last 26 years I have been told this by family and friends. That I am a wonderful, caring, dedicated father. That through adversity, a horrible divorce, I stepped up and raised my two eldest daughters. I have been told, by my own mother nonetheless, very Motherly. Wasn’t exactly sure how to take it, but I was pretty sure it was a compliment.
Being a parent was something I had always wanted to be. I can remember being a teenager and fantasizing about being a father one day. Yet, it really wasn’t my initial plans.
I was going to be a paleoanthropologist. Teach at a great university, go on digs during the summer months, write tomes of works dedicated to the field of primitive man. Yet it never happened. Life got in the way. I never went to college for anthropology, I only took silly courses that amounted to nothing.
At 28 years of age, I became a father, and for the last 26 years, I added to my brood and now have four children. At first? I had no clue what I was getting into. I had never hung around babies, nor small children. My cousins, and nieces and nephews, were all around my age. Being the youngest child of a family of four, with nearly 17 years difference between the eldest and me, I never experienced children that weren’t close to my age.
So, I was an idiot. Had to learn on the fly. Yet I had good teachers in my parents.
When I split with my wife in 2000, I suddenly became something I had always dreaded. A weekend father. It was rough, very painful, and the thought of giving up was very real.
When the weekend father part ended, and I became a full-time single parent. I was so overwhelmed that first three weeks that I want to run off and hide under a rock. But I didn’t. I stuck it out, got the girls in school, and made all the arrangements from changing my shift at work, to having a neighbor watch them after school till I got home from work.
What I didn’t expect, was the misandry. In case you are wondering, misandry is the hatred of men. Or contempt, which I got all the time, being a father (Male) with two daughters (Female).
I had experienced this before, since I took my daughters to many of their doctors appointments by myself before the divorce. This was done by design, since my wife at the time worked days, and I worked nights. Made it easy.
Yet the question of when my daughter’s birthdate always came up, and my quick answer was ALWAYS met with the surprised response from the nurse that I actually knew it. This little misandry grated against me, yet it was nothing compared to when I was a single dad.
Because dad’s can’t raise daughters by themselves you see, we are incapable. We just don’t have it in us. Then of course there were the side-eyed looks, of why I would be in a house with two little girls in the first place. By myself, without a female there to guide me.
Teachers would say disparaging remarks about me, either to my daughters, or within earshot of them. They would talk down to me, be contemptuous, and overall ignored any concerns or cares I had.
“Have you talked to their mother? Could she come in and see me?” Was a line I was given over and over. As if talking to dad was beneath them.
I did my best not to let it get to me, but honestly? When my youngest two came along, and went to the same school district? I was jaded at that point. Untrusting of teachers and faculty. But, to their credit, the school personnel that I deal with now, are very nice. Then again, there is a woman at the house, my wife, and mother of my youngest two.
Don’t think I don’t wonder. Don’t think I don’t have that little fear in the back of my mind that without my wife, once again, I am nothing.
Both of my eldest daughters are grown, they are mother’s themselves. They had a rough upbringing, stories I will not repeat here. Yet…
They are respectful of me.
They say Please and Thank You.
They are not hooligans and in and out of the correctional system.
They both have jobs.
They both contacted me for Father’s Day. To tell me they loved me, and were thinking of me.
I worked a 12 hour shift today at my work. It was a hot, miserable, humid day. I work outside. Yet on my breaks, I saw the messages from my oldest two. When I got home, I was greeted by ‘Happy Father’s Day Daddy’ and cards. Hugs and Kisses all around.
I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, think I am the best dad in the world. I would give that honor to My Father, gone these 22 years. Yet I know so many good fathers, those with partners, those without. I see the single father’s struggle, know their plight.
Being a good dad, a great dad, is simple. You just have to care, and let your children know you care.
And to hell with the naysayers.