For all of us whose fathers sucked


Daughter, Dad and Grandma working on a puzzle. It’s a beautiful sight.

Ahhh, Father’s Day. Facebook is filled with gushy, sweet odes to the wonderful man who took you bike riding, swung you by the arms and taught you to drive. Good for you and stop rubbing it in. I’ll bet he yelled at you when you came in late, and he may have even humiliated you for all time by walking into your sleepover wearing his favorite ripped Yankees T. But he was there, and how lucky you were.

My father never walked in on a sleepover, or taught me to drive. He chose to distance himself from my sister, brother and me when I was 4 years old. He decided he wanted a do-over. You know, like when you’re playing cards with your dad and you didn’t mean to put that card down and you say, “Can I have a do-over?” and he lets you. Or when you have three young children and a wife and you think, “Damn, I can do better than that,” and you dump them and get married again and have three more and you send them to college and take them to Europe on vacation. You know, do-overs.

So each year growing up, I would endure the sweet Father’s Day ads on TV and sad, “Oh, I’m sorry. You don’t have a father,” comments. My best friend invited me over for dinner because she felt sorry for me and thought that if I had dinner with her dad, or any dad, that would make me feel better. It was sweet, but ridiculous when I thought about it. Now I get to sit at your dinner table and see how awesome your dad is, and how funny he is when he shoots those peas at you across the table, and how he hugs your mom in the kitchen when he thinks nobody is looking. Then I go home and remember that my dad is in Europe with family #2, hasn’t called or sent child support in 8 years, and won’t take my brother’s phone calls.

But as I watch my husband all these years later with our daughters, I remember those stolen hugs in the kitchen years ago, and the peas shooting across the table. I remember how my friend’s father would hug me and even gave me a ride in his new Corvette. He yelled at me once (I’m sure I deserved it) and if he only knew how much I loved him for it. He was the model for what a father should be, for what I should expect my husband to be with my kids, and with me.

I see my husband and realize that not all fathers are asses who don’t take their responsibility seriously. If you have a father who’s an ass, you’re not alone. Go find one who isn’t and thank him. Oh, and thanks to Mr. Beakley for the ride and the hugs.

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10 thoughts on “For all of us whose fathers sucked

  1. I like this post, thanks for sharing. My father is no longer in my life (he is out there in his life, has chosen not to participate in mine), and I find Father’s Day weird. There is some comfort in knowing it is not just my experience, and that today is really just another Sunday for some of us.

    • Thank you for your support. It’s nice to know we’re not alone, isn’t it? I happen to think we may be in the majority, unfortunately. But it is just another Sunday (until you have kids and a husband who happens to be a good father). I wish you peace every year on this day, and for myself as well…what the heck!

  2. Valerie, while it was sucky what your father chose to do it’s better that he didn’t stay and be a jerk in your day to day life. I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant to have him living a life with another family. But at least you didn’t have to deal with his asshattery on a more routine basis. Being a father doesn’t take much. Being a dad, on the other hand, requires something your father didn’t seem to have. You’re likely better off for not having to have dealt with more than you already did.

    Better to celebrate the wonderful dad your husband is to his daughters.

    • This is very true, Sara. Interestingly, he seemed to be a very doting father to family #2. I guess he just needed to be there for them and not us. I still think he’s an ass and we were better off without his “asshattery” (my new favorite word!). He obviously would not have been happy if he stayed. But it sure made me realize what a father is NOT supposed to do, and what a good one looked like. My husband is a great dad and I’m so glad he is. Thanks, my friend!

  3. LOVE this!!!! I practically lived at my friends’ various houses just so I didn’t have to be home as much as possible. The first time I watched Father of the Bride, I sat there wondering what was wrong with me because I didn’t get it. What’s the big deal?

    But now, as I attempt to repair a relationship with my all too willing father and look at my fiance who may soon be father to any children we might have, I realize it’s time to celebrate those who show us what a dad should be no matter who they belong to.
    …And I’m falling asleep in your house typing this comment trying to stay awake just a little bit longer to watch Dave and make sure the Epi-Pen did it’s job….

    • Thanks. It’s nice to know we’re not alone. I would say we are the majority these days, as sad as that is. And yet somehow those of us with shitty fathers seem to find some pretty great guys (not without finding a few asses along the way). Dave is a keeper, lucky he has you for sure! Thanks for following and now…get writing!

  4. My dad was – and still is – a part of my life…sort of. Oh he stuck with us but he was never there. He was always away on business trips while he was working for the IRS, doing teaching gigs or meeting with government officials to discuss policies and procedures for the local IRS office. When they finally forced him to retire (after 33 years), he promptly got two jobs – one full time and one part time – and continued to vanish from our lives. My mom wasn’t the greatest parent either, so I grew up with an extremely dysfunctional view of family life. We did have “family vacations”. We went camping for 2 weeks every summer, and we took random picnics and fishing trips. I usually spent my time reading or writing, and never really felt encouraged to accompany my parents on hikes or anything like that. My parents never seemed to care what I did in that regard (though heaven help me if I did something they thought was wrong), so I didn’t have much to do with them.

    Even after I grew up and moved away I didn’t get much of anything from my dad. He barely acknowledged anything I did, and I still swear it was only because my mom dragged him along that he showed up at my wedding. When my mom died, my dad completely lost it. He stopped working and devoted himself to taking care of my disabled little sister. We started talking and he turned out to be a very interesting person. He remarried a year after my mom died (dad’s in his late 70’s so the time frame didn’t bother us that much) and suddenly he’s once again no longer interested in a relationship with his kids. So I really don’t know what it’s like to have a “real” dad either.

    • Wow, sounds like you had a father around but he still wasn’t there for you. So sorry. I don’t know what’s worse, having one around that doesn’t care or not having one around. Since I don’t have experience with both, I guess I’d say that at least he cared enough to stick around and support his wife and kids. And maybe he’s just not capable of caring about more than one person at a time. Now, I’m not therapist, in fact I probably need one. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and commiserating.

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