My words may be clumsy, stumbling, likely sound self-involved. Perhaps they are.
Honesty and raw feelings don’t always translate smoothly onto a page the way my heart wants them to. But the hope is there. That this will be taken as it is intended…humbly and with respect.
Glancing through Twitter hundreds of colourful posts fly upwards from my scrolling thumb.
I smile, and read, and retweet a constant stream of words that remind me I am not alone. Not the only one that is tired to the point of tears. Thoughts and feelings from parents, like me; sharing our joys, fears and snapshots of our children’s epic tantrums. Crayon on walls and sick on shoes. For fun, for support, for a living.
Yet, there are some posts that sometimes the content I find hard to read. That I skip over.
To make it clear I am in NO WAY an anti-daddy blogger, or anti daddy for that matter. Mummy and daddy are both Y words. Different but equal. I don’t see anywhere in the definition of a ‘good parent’ the specification of requiring boobs instead of balls.
You are fighting to be seen as you are, as loving devoted dads who are witty, knowledgeable and present. With your children in your arms, there is no room for perceptions of the father’s role as ‘secondary’.
And that is why I find it so hard.
Because however grown up I am. However many wrinkles frame my eyes, part of me will always be the little girl whose daddy left her and I am jealous of how you love your children. I read your posts and admire your pictures but it incites a bittersweet joy that for me is coloured grey by the sharp tone of loss.
Of missed chances.
Until I was six, maybe seven, the definition of dad’ was an absent space. An empty chair. An imaginary hand that held mine. He had no place in my world.
Didn’t I deserve one?
I would observe my friend’s dads, always a little cautious, and try and figure out their role in family life. Friends before school plays would happily say, ‘my daddy is coming to watch me.’
I knew that mine never would.
There are sepia toned pictures of the day I met my dad.
I was dressed in my best Christmas dress even though it was not Christmas. It must have been nerve-wracking for him and my mum. He was handsome with a dimple in his nose. I could see nothing of me in him. My mother says otherwise, that I have his temper and tilt of head.
In school I was proud to tell people, at last, that daddy came to see me.
The word felt unfamiliar on my lips.
And for a while the odd weekend was spent with him, his wife, and eventually my half siblings. I did adore them but would not recognise them in the street now. Two little people with his dark hair and olive skin whilst I was blonde and fair. I never quite felt like I fit in.
It was hard split between two families. Could I truly have a place in each? I had no room there, no trace.
We slowly drifted out of contact, did not understand each other.
When met with reality I found myself disappointed.
People are not perfect.
Do I wish we had never met, so my imagination could hold onto the idea of a good dad? It would be easier than holding all these regrets.
He wanted the little girl he had left and he was awkwardly trying to fill the shoes that my grandfather had stepped into when he cast them off.
What does it mean to be a dad?
Spending most of my childhood crawling round the floor pretending to be a pony, grandad must have hurt his knees. In his workshop I hid his best hammers. He would put water on a comb and quiff my hair up like a teddy boy. Travolta chic. Memories are filled with grass, sheep, wood smoke and brown leaves. A man of little words. Of reassurance and bad jokes. The jokes have faded with age.
He gently murmurs to his horses and mutters at my grandma under his breath when she tells him off for overcooking the parsnips.
It is me that needs to change.
To grow up and leave that little girl behind.
So, when I read posts from dad bloggers they should remind me of how men can be loving, protective, there. I should see my grandfather, and not the father that left.
See the man that stayed.
Dear daddy bloggers, thank you. For redefining the word dad for me.
For reminding me what it means to be a father and what it is to earn the title.