On Fatherhood…

My first “life” lesson was probably on that of fathers. Mostly because mine was absolutely nowhere to be found, in a very small town where a chunk of his family still remained. While those remnants of family members worked hard to slander my girlhood name- my father never managed to come rescue me as I wished he would. 
 Lesson learned: I’m worth nothing if even my own father refuses to love (or even meet) me.
The funny thing about life lessons though, is they keep evolving.
I dreamed of him saving me from my step father and his lust for me. 
Lesson learned: If I am worth anything at all, the only worth is in sexual things
When life intervened and I ended up in a group home, I imagined my father riding in {looking quite a lot like Joe Penny, circa mid’80’s}and dadding me in the way that a dad should dad his daughter. {yep, I did just make a verb. It’s allowed.} When i was fifteen, however, my birth mom grew weary of me placing my complete-stranger of a father upon a pedestal and she sent him a letter. He replied, to me, with pages and pages of beautifully penned words of love. 
Pedestal earned. My daddy loved me. My daddy wanted me. 
Two years passed before I would meet him- an event which no one bothered to emotionally prepare me for. I completely shut down/withdrew during the few hours we had together. Honestly I remember none of it. Later, though, when word got back to me that he was disappointed in me and wished he hadn’t met me- I completely lost my compass.
Lesson learned: I was a disgusting, repulsive girl. I would never amount to anything. 
Roughly six years later, I was a twenty three year old divorced girl who had just had a complete hysterectomy. I was a little overwhelmed and making some fairly self destructive choices. One night, on a long car ride back to Boise from my foster parents mountain home, my foster dad (whom I just call dad.) Told me of his love for me. He touched on disappointments in choices I had made, expressed deep seeded concerns he had and recounted how he had been the one (as in, one and only) to sit, wringing his hands, in the waiting room while I’d had tumors removed. (The hysterectomy had not been scheduled. Cancer had been the giant fear that day.) He talked about shared holidays and the eleven years he’d spent daddying me and how blessed he felt by the trust I had given but that he wished I’d really give in and trust him more. 
Lesson learned: I was a blind fool. I had a dad. An amazing dad. Blood was irrelevant. 
Three years post that car ride conversation, my father made it known (via his wife) that he wanted another go at things. He felt crippled in his insecurity but wanted to really make things work with me. Except they didn’t work. Around my husband’s very crazy work schedule (he traveled, a lot) and my youngest’s school and special needs routine- both Chw and i felt like we were moving mountains to treck the 6 hours south to spend quality time getting to know them. Though I had grown up a lot, I had enough self respect to know that I’d take time with opening up and very openly communicated that, to which both he & she had claimed complete sensitivity and understanding. 
But they were not sensitive. 
And they were not understanding. 
They kept score of my multitude of imperfections and each trip down there, which led me to opening up more and more of my brokenness and love, became some catwalk for their secret judging and score keeping to commence. 
On my 29th birthday, via a string of hateful emails my father’s wife spoke for both of them as she attempted to insult me to my core and shatter me. Though the shards of her hatred did hurt, I was (thankfully) able to see her words for what they were. She’d never taken the time or made the effort to truly know me. To truly know us. The only person their words deeply wounded was my attachment disorder daughter who loved them and still, six years later, wishes they knew and loved her. It was her their rejection hurt. A tiny child who’d already been hurt so much by the time she made it to our family… 
Lesson learned: Their loss is indeed the most significant. My father hole was no longer a gaping canyon. 
{sidenote: we spent the entire next day riding roller coasters and playing in the ocean. I thought, not one little time, about them. There was no heaviness… second sidenote: For years, following, I did include them in our Christmas card list. This was always for Genny. She still, though I don’t understand it, loves them. In the grand scheme of her life with us- they hold but a blip. Because she’d never had “grandparents” before them, though- that blip made a pretty big impact. I regret giving them that power over her. They didn’t deserve the gift of her love…}
After another six years, I look at my husband. I look at this man who hasn’t blinked an eye over my inability to birth a little us. He adores our kids and I know him, I know his heart. He physically could not love them more. I look at my dad, (from a distance, as he lives in Kansas and I haven’t seen him for over a year) and I know the man he is. Such a good man… An amazing man. I look at our friends, and the men we know. Men who love and work for their children. Men who know basic things like their children’s favorite colors and bigger things like their fears and secrets. 
Lesson learned: Fatherhood is as much a verb as it is a season. Without the action, canyons are made. Real men were born to be real dads… Every guy’s got a sperm count, but it’s the heart to care about following through with that- which matters. 
EVERY child deserves to have a loving, attentive and selfless father. (even me). 
EVERY man does NOT deserve to be a dad... 
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One thought on “On Fatherhood…

  1. Oh my gosh, my heart goes out to you. I've always been in awe of you, but now, hearing more of what you've gone through and where you've been, I am even more amazed. You are one strong, brilliant woman. (As a sidenote, I am hoping you were talking about 2 different stepfathers? One that lusted after you, and one that was a great dad who loved you?)

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