I’m sitting in the doctor’s office for my first ever prenatal visit. The nurse is going through the standard questions and inquires about my family history. I tell her everything I know and sit back to wait for the next set of instructions. But she doesn’t move on. She looks at me and asks, “And what about your dad’s history?” An image of my stepdad flashes in my mind, only she isn’t interested in his history of course. She wants to know the history of the man who is biologically my father, whose genetic makeup I am passing along to my unborn baby. It’s a question I cannot answer.
I tell the nurse what information I do know about that side of my family, but sheepishly inform her that I have not had contact with my dad in many, many years. She asks me if we are estranged in the nonchalant way of someone who is unaware of the emotions their question has stirred. I had never considered using this word to describe our relationship, I never wanted to call it anything really, but I tell her yes. She nods and makes a note in her computer.
And there it was, a permanent record of being unwanted.
I never had much of a relationship with my dad after my parents divorced when I was around 10. He would spend time with me occasionally but only if I contacted him first. Eventually what little we had just faded away. I struggled with this for some time in my early adulthood, but then I came to terms with the fact that I may never speak to my dad again. Fostering an unhealthy one-sided relationship as I grew older was not something I wanted to maintain. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful stepdad, uncle, and friend’s fathers who were important in my life. I thought I could just move on.
And then I became a mother.
I spent enough years with my dad that I can very easily pick out which traits my children carry that have come from him. Seeing this causes an ache to surface when all I want to do is push it away. It’s a reminder that despite never meeting my children we are still connected. That even though he has not been much of a father to me he is still my dad.
Father’s Day always brings me a mixed bag of emotions. I celebrate my husband and stepdad, I am truly grateful to have them both in my life. But on this day my heart lies heavy. This person who created me is still walking around in the world. A person I could potentially run into on the streets of my hometown, but have no address or phone number for. A person my children and I both share traits with but who knows nothing about us at all.
My story is not unique, I know there are many people going through this type of situation. So many of us with difficult pasts who may not appear to struggle on the outside but whose wounds run deep, especially when days like Father’s Day come around. I feel for you and want you to know you are not alone.