Part of the process of preparing to write my book Daddy’s Doing Hair?!?!? was to reach out to women to ask how their childhood relationships (or lack thereof), with their fathers shaped their lives as an adult. I asked them to provide me with a one page write up about it. Some of their responses were stories of overcoming, of learning self reliance, and of sheer force of will. Many of them contained passages about strong mothers. Some were heart wrenching stories of feelings of betrayal, abandonment and lifelong scars. One of them that I interviewed even said that she is scared to have children of her own, because she is afraid that she will abandon them…..like her father did her. Mind…..blown.
I gathered a few things out of my interviews. As men, and potential Daddies, we have a huge amount of influence over the lives of our daughters. I’m not sure if most of us truly know this or, even sadder to accept, if we even care.
Case in point. The write up that I’m including in this post. It’s called “Puerile Father”. Now, I’m not one that easily admits publicly that I don’t know what a word means, but the word puerile sent me STRAIGHT to dictionary.com. One of the definitions is : childishly foolish; immature or trivial Wow…Is THAT the description of fatherhood that we want?? Read the write up below, and let me know what you think about her point of view. Also, if you’d like to share your story and possibly have it included in the book, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.
I can’t ever remember him being regularly around really, I have oddments of memories that may or may not be real. As you grow older your mind melds what you want to be real into thoughts and false memories that seem to erase the past…I guess that’s what I did or maybe it’s real I guess I will never know. Granted I have spoken to him numerous times and for a brief period I thought that I would actually have a dad in my life. I say dad because the cliché goes, “any man can father a child but a real man is called dad” or something or other.
My earliest encounter that I can remember was Houston, Texas going to a carnival. Through the eyes of a perceptive child I knew things between my father and mother were strained. They did not act like the parents on television or in movies they were distant almost choking at the sight of each other, I’m not completely sure that a three year old should pick up on such raw emotions but I did. He owns his transportation business so he is always on the go, I guess that’s where I get it from I’m never content with anything. My mother says I’m just like him, impetuous and quick tempered I’ve got a foul mouth and even nastier mood swings. Unexpectedly I inherited his love for art and ingenuity and I excel at anything I’m determined to do, but I guess my father wasn’t so resolute in keeping a family.
I remember him picking me up for a Panamanian convention in Charlotte; I suppose the thought connecting with half of my heritage would be a bonding experience. Well after four hours of wandering alone in a Charlotte mall because he forgot to pick me up after shopping I felt the bonding was doubtful. Discarding me in a room with three Spanish speaking women I did not know also put a damper on the evening. However, I suspect one of the women was one of his many girlfriends kept during his marriage to my mom.
My experience with my father continued into my high school years as he attempted to build a relationship with me over the phone via guilt, manipulation and intimidation. But, I am my father’s daughter so his attempts were unsuccessful. My father tried to instruct me to think and act as he felt a “good daughter” should nonetheless, his attempts were frustrated by my obstinate resolve to be my own person separate from him. I never felt a need for my father to be in my life in order to dictate who I should be, bearing in mind that he was not qualified to be a parent…competent or concerned.
My mother raised me to be an intellectual, articulate woman with no hate in my heart towards my father, my distance from him comes from the observations of his chronic unreliability and pettiness. A lack of father figure has affected me greatly, but I opt not to be a victim. The trust issues I have with men have beleaguered me since my mid to late teens, all the same, I desire to take control of my personal happiness and that does not include feeling sorry for myself in regards to my father or lack thereof. In a way I have had a father in my mother who is the strongest woman I know. As a single parent she was father, mother, friend and confidant and the struggle of raising a daughter in a changing world was a task she tackled with poise and charm.
I have never felt hate towards my father, mostly sadness and bitterness because he has truly missed out on the woman that I am becoming. Regardless, my path to greatness will be dictated by my inner strength, passion and determination to succeed with or without a father-figure will be what propels me to the future.