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Happy Father's Day...Or Not · Rachel Rumbelow
It’s Father’s Day! Yay! Right? Well…not for everybody. These days where we celebrate our parents are a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Parents deserve to be honored. They deserve to be shown appreciation. Having said that, no parent is perfect. Some are better than others but none of them can say they handled the enormous responsibility of raising a child at their best at all times. There’s a reason for that. It’s hard. Human beings are so complicated. How do you raise a being with so many layers and complexities as you also navigate through your own? It’s a minefield. All you can do is try to get through it. And there it is. The operative word there is try. To all those fathers out there who are trying and to those who tried before they were taken too early. I say Happy Father’s Day. I also send out as much warmth and comfort as possible to those who lost their fathers. That makes this day so bittersweet and painful for them. To those who never had a father. I say, hi. I’m there with you. It sucks. And this day is a shitty reminder of that. I’m sorry. I am of that group of people in this world whose father did not try. At all. Not even a little bit. Get this. I found out in 2015 that he died in 2006. Didn’t even try to get a hold of me. Nobody in his family did, either. Nine years he was dead without me knowing. Nine years and nobody in his family thought to tell me. I was always a nonexistent entity to his family. All of them. They took his lead on that. It was weird to find out he was dead. I had always thought that there would be some sort of reconciliation. I often thought about reaching out to him with how I felt about him abandoning me and fantasized about him being apologetic, which would lead to us talking and getting to know each other. He would apologize again, I would forgive him as much as I could. A sort of relationship would have formed and evolve into a real relationship. I could have, for a short time in my life at least, said that I had a dad. A real dad. Something I always pined for. Painfully. I didn’t get that chance. And let’s be honest, even if he had lived, that fantasy most likely never would have come true. The very few times I interacted with him in my life, he was always about himself and nobody else. Them’s the breaks sometimes. Them’s the breaks. But I’m not the only one who has been abandoned like this. My story is, unfortunately, not rare. It sucks but it is what it is. We forge on trying to fill that hole in our life any way we can. Sometimes it’s isn’t done in the healthiest of ways, but we forge on just the same. We forge on as nonexistent entities in a person’s life who is supposed to try to love us. Or want to love us or want to try to love us. We didn’t even get that. We don’t have any fatherly memories. This day is a depressing reminder of that. What this experience has taught me is to appreciate when I see a father who actually wants to try. A father who has love for their child(ren) and wants to see them happy and do well, that seems priceless to me. I don’t sugarcoat it too much. I know there are things between children and parents that are painful no matter how good a parent seems but to see somebody actually want to try to be a dad. It makes me feel both admiration and wistfulness. It rubs that painful blister of abandonment in me but in a way that makes me grateful that not everybody shares that experience. It means a lot to children when you try. It means a lot to your grown children when you continue to try as a parent. Just trying is all it takes. You have to want it. And to show that you want it is everything to your child. Letting fear or ego get in the way of that will do more damage than letting yourself try. So please, try. Just try to show your child that there is love in your heart for them. Just try. And to those who don’t want to try or who would read this and get defensive instead of seeing how their actions are affecting their children? This day is not for you. That’s the nicest way I can put this. Be gone, featherweights. Be gone. Happy Father’s Day to the fathers who want to show their children that they are important. Happy Father’s day to those who show their children that they are loved unconditionally. Happy Father’s Day to those who can admit their mistakes and apologize for them in a way that validates their children. You are the true fathers.