When Father’s Day Is Complicated

History repeats but doesn’t defeat

My son and I don’t celebrate father’s day. If you have read my other stories about him, you know I raised him alone. Unless you count the village that helped me raise him, and believe me, I do. As a result, there are a couple of men and one woman (my sister Elaine) that he can say Happy Father’s Day to. But not so much to his biological father. They had some good times together, facilitated by me, but there were lots of broken promises and no shows. As a result, he posted this picture this year with “Happy Father’s Day” as the caption.

Image for post
Image for post

He inherited the dark humor from my side of the family. It’s our coping style, and has served us well.

My own father was a mixed bag too. He was physically present, but emotionally distant. He brought home and cared for stray animals, and was the designated person to take them all to the vet at the end of their days. He was highly protective, but not always in a healthy way, or for healthy reasons. He fixed all our cars, or told us what to tell the mechanics. He was there for me when a hailstorm destroyed my car and made it undrivable while my 18 month old son and I were in it. He took us home, then he went back to get my car and drove it to my house with no windows and the engine light on. He built fences and installed ceiling fans and whatever else any of us needed. He built a solar science project for me. I’m pretty sure my teacher figured out I wasn’t that adept with tools. He punched my sister’s band director when he didn’t like the way he was treating my sister, and the guy wouldn’t back down. Somehow, he didn’t get in trouble. When my youngest sister found a mouse in her car while traveling, she called Dad, even though he was hours away. No, he didn’t go rescue the mouse or her, but he made her laugh about it. He told her to make sure she secured the bottoms of her pants. He mentioned how scared the poor little mouse must be.

My sisters and I can laugh about him now, and tell fond stories, but he caused a rift between us that lasted for years. We only recently managed to forgive each other and recognize that he was the problem. It lifted a weight off our interactions. Like all families, we each saw different aspects of him, and each made decisions about his inclusion or non-inclusion in our lives based on different feelings of hurt, anger, compassion, boundaries and even the guilt that children often carry toward parents. But none of us have been defeated by his issues. Just as my son has not been defeated by his father’s absence. We are all strong and successful. We each do what we need to to heal.

My son’s father is still in his life on the periphery. They are Facebook friends and occasionally keep in touch. He only made it to two of my son’s college basketball games in four years, but at least he got to see him play and the results of my son’s unrelenting desire and practice.

My father went to prison when his three daughters were in our forties. I saw him only once after he was released. His grandchildren and one of his daughters never saw him again.

Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist. Leans Left. Mindfulness practioner before it was cool. M.Ed., LPC. Carolsantafe93@gmail.com.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store