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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day when you don't have a father

Oh I know. Everyone has a father. Somewhere. Even if the father is a sperm donor, he's still a father. (Eye roll). Believe me, I've heard all the lines about fathers. All of them.

You know what? It doesn't matter what the line is, it doesn't apply to our family's situation. It just does not. So save the lines.

I had a father. I grew up with him. He was a short, square man who looked like a combination of William Bendix (you probably have NO clue who that is) and Ed Asner. A typical Jewish father from the 50's, he was overweight, had a lot of hair all over his body, wore the requisite hideously ugly plaid sports coats, and worked way too much. My father wasn't a nice guy. He was a mean bastard most of the time. He had absolutely no patience for children. Nor much love for them either. He was a misogynist and could not stand his daughters. Um, I'm a daughter. We weren't close. Heh.

My father was violent and angry. He hit first and never bothered to listen. He didn't care if we had an opinion. What he said was the law. Any trying to get around the law let to fists and kicks.

There is no love lost for my father's memory. When he died, I didn't even bother to think about the funeral. Which was kinda funny, since his obituary never mentioned either me or my sister. Because we were absolutely worthless as far as he was concerned. His death made me sad, but not because we didn't have a reunion after a 20 year absence of contact. This isn't Dr Phil or Oprah. I never wanted to lay eyes on him again. I was sad for all that I didn't get from him. There was no love, there wasn't even an acknowledgement that I was worth the oxygen I took from the air. He had no use for me in life, nor in death. But I mourned what I never got, a father who cared about me, who wanted to know who I was and what I believed. A father who loved his grandchildren and wanted to be a part of their lives.

My children's father is absent. 100% absent. He has no interest in our children together. He has not since right after they were born, when he said "I can't handle this" and took off for parts unknown. I understood why. Without going into much of a backstory, he had already done the very sick baby thing in a former relationship. He didn't want twins. He especially didn't want premature twins where one was a very sick baby. I get why he left, and honestly, it's better that he did. I did not want my children growing up as I did, unwanted and resented. I know what that feels like. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Consequently, fatherhood is something that I have a difficult time with. I find it hard to say positive things about fathers in general, and the fathers involved in our family in particular. My children know something about my father, a man they never met. They know he was terrible to me. But I never wanted them to feel about their father the way I do about mine. It's different. The whole situation is different.

So I've gone way out of my way to try and stay positive about their father. He isn't a bad man. He's a man who knew what his limits were, and did, in some weird way, the right thing by leaving. Oh yeah, he could have helped financially which he really never had. That would have made a real difference. He could have responded to the photos and letters I've sent over the years. He could have had his family be peripherally involved in our lives so my kids would have grandparents. He didn't do any of those things. Which kinda sucks for my kids.

But on the other hand, he's never lifted a hand to them in anger, nor has he ever called them names or said how worthless they are. He's absent in thought and in deed, and in some strange way, I'm so thankful for that. My kids have been able to maintain a decent idea of him. They're not particularly interested in him, having never grown up with him. They don't ask about him, nor do they perk up when I mention him or his accomplishments. I don't think that when they're 18 that they'll go off to try and meet him. They might someday, but right now, they know that having me as a constant is enough for them.

My kids have known a couple of very dysfunctional families with fathers that are a lot like mine. When we lived in CA there was a family in Shallow Alto with one of the most odious human beings that ever lived who was the father of two boys and the husband of a women we knew. We saw his behavior first hand often, and it was frightening. This family was richer than anyone we had ever known, and more miserable. It was the most perfect example of 'money doesn't buy happiness' I could ever had come up with. It was a great teaching moment.

Here we also have family friends with a toxic father. One that hits both his kids and his wife. My children despise this man. They have witnessed enough of his behavior to have formed their own opinions. They have said many times that they are happier without a father than to have one that is so vicious and downright mean. I agree with them. It is better to be without a parent than to be stuck with one that hates you.

Obviously, Father's Day is a non-holiday in our house. We don't send cards. We don't even mention it as a day that people celebrate. It is inconsequential to us. But the comments come anyhow. All I can say is that we have no fathers in our family. I try to leave it at that, but under my breath I mutter, "Thank God."

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7 Comments:

Blogger Rhiannon said...

I'm so glad that your kids have such a strong mother in you.

I have a strong, wonderful father, but a mother who was never really equipped to parent me, even today, 30 years later she'd still rather be my girlfriend than my mom. Sometimes, a girl needs a MOM.

I hope that you'll spend the day together on Sunday doing something that you'll all enjoy :)

14/6/08 1:35 AM  
Blogger Rhea said...

I am sorry to hear what a lousy person your father was, but I am also glad you speak about it openly. I can't stand how almost everyone tries to make believe that they're parents were saints. It's hard to say anything otherwise. My dad was a very nice guy, my mom not. When I tell people that I was relieved when she died, I think people understand, but it still sounds like I am an ogre when I say it.

14/6/08 7:34 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

A difficult story for some I am sure, but you tell it so matter of factly that I cannot help but applaud you.

My own father can be a difficult man, but I have no doubt that I am loved and when I come across such backstories I realise that I am so fortunate in my parents.

However, I do agree that it would be far better not to have a father (or mother) if they cannot love their children or were simply never meant to be parents.

14/6/08 4:35 PM  
Blogger Pepper said...

I think kids are more perceptive than we give them credit for and yours are prime examples. There's such a peace that you have when you recognize you're better off without the father you would've had. Been there. I miss having a father figure, but I don't miss my own.

Happy Father's Day to you. Visiting from NCLM.

14/6/08 9:43 PM  
Blogger janeywan said...

Hi,

Stopping by to say I'm sorry that you had a shitty dad. If you read rhea's post I am the one she referred to as having the good dad. My mother on the other hand as been a piece of work I will spend hours in therapy to make sure I don't recreate her insanity in my self. My mother disliked or maybe even hated my father, and now after many years of hating on him, she's mourning. Is her memory so bad she forgets the evil things she said to him up till the time she really knew the end was near. I hope he forgives her, not so sure I can.

15/6/08 2:45 AM  
Blogger madamspud169 said...

My father disowned me when I was 11 years old. My "crime" was to be diagnosed with diabetes. This was too embarassing for my father, he couldn't have a daughter that was "defective" & so he cut me out of his life.
When I was 18 years old he left the family home to start a new life with his mistress & that was the last time he spoke to my sister, my mum & I.
My sister has become one of those women who choose men just like their father & as such her children now have an absent father & their only memory of him is of a man who used to sneer at them & was physically & verbally abusive to them all.

I have been lucky, I used my father as a benchmark & my husband is the exact opposite to my father. He is an amazing dad & husband who puts us first even before himself. Fathers Day is a celebration now, I celebrate the fact that I love this man & I thank the lord for him every day.
My own father didn't ruin my life, the hurt turned to indifference for him & because of him I have found the best daddy I could have for my son. I am blessed.

15/6/08 9:19 AM  
Blogger wannascream said...

I sent this post to my terminally ill father, much like yours whom I have no relationship with. Your words went through me, in a way I can not explain. Thank you for stating so eloquently your thoughts and feelings.

15/6/08 9:33 AM  

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