After seeing all of the Father’s Day posts on facebook yesterday, I feel compelled to add my two cents.
There were the “I’m daddy’s little girl” posts, there were the “my father was always there for me” posts, there were the “I know you’re watching over me from above” posts, there were the “it takes a special man to be a daddy” posts, there were even the “single mom, no participating dad” posts but the thing I didn’t see yesterday and worked really hard to refrain from writing was the “HEY DAD, FUCK YOU!” post… so here goes.
I mean no disrespect to those of you that are/were fortunate enough to have a loving father by your side throughout your life, the same way you meant no disrespect to me when you proudly shared your posts of praise yesterday. I simply know that my father experience has been different AND I know I’m not alone in this.
My parents were married at 18years old (1 year older than Ty is now and 3 years younger than Erica is now!) They had two children right away (imagine the pressures associated with that) and my interpretation of the story from there is that they quickly began to despise each other and it ultimately ended in divorce.
Mom and dad both re-married. Mom married a younger like-minded hippie who introduced her to the world of drugs and non-conformity. Dad was on the up and up as a professional and married an equally like-minded professional woman. They shared a strong focus on structure and education. For my brother and I, visitation with one was the polar opposite of visitation with the other.
Weekdays with mom, weekends with dad… we’ve all heard this story before, right?
But then, things changed. Mom got “busted” with drugs, kids went to live with dad for several months and then… were forced to choose between their two parents, which parent they wanted to live, full time with. (keep in mind that we are pre-teens at this point, I’m gonna guess around 8 and 9 years old, maybe 9 and 10) I chose our mom, he chose our dad…
Resentments on both sides developed, my brother and I were separated (even on the weekends for visitation) and I chose to stop going to see my father. He accepted it. I was grateful that he accepted it and my life, without his positive influence (a strong focus on structure and education) went on.
As an adult who is a fiercely attached parent, I don’t get this.
On my 18th birthday, he reached out to me. We met up, had dinner together and we tried to make a go of it.
When he reunited with the 18 year old, me, I was a high school drop out with NO self-esteem who used drugs on a very regular basis. (Maybe the worst point in my life). I’m sure he was proud of what I had become….
He bails me out a few times financially (as parents do) and I begin the process of getting my life on track.
I remember sitting on an airplane headed to a “program” in California, processing what I had become… I pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote a letter trying to explain it to my father. The most difficult letter I have ever written to date. His response was simply an itemized bill for his handful of financial rescues. And that is where it ended. 28 years ago…. (with the exception of an obligatory hello at a wedding 20 years ago)
This is where the “HEY DAD, FUCK YOU!” comes in. I am not 18 years old anymore. I do not do drugs. I do NOT have low self-esteem. Instead, I am a pillar in my community. I am a great wife, an amazing mother and a good friend. I own a successful business and I give back to my community. I am strong and self-confident and I love who I have become! In my opinion, you missed out.
The “dad” I grew up with, my mom’s husband, was there. I am grateful for that. Things have changed since my mom died and we are clearly cut from different cloths. Apparently, he has moved on.
Ready for the light at the end of the tunnel?
His name is Jerry Patterson. He is a real man. He is honest and loyal and patient and understanding. He knows the honor in a hard days work and he provides for his family. He is smart and funny and relatable. He is humble and proud at the same time. He respects women and has taught our daughters the way women should be treated by the example he sets in our marriage. He supports us emotionally and physically. He is sensitive and strong and competent and engaging. He is my partner and my friend. He is a mentor and a mush. He holds our children accountable but understands and forgives. And we are lucky to have him.
Jerry Patterson, thank you for teaching the girls and I the true meaning of a father’s role. You far exceed my expectations every day and if I have made one right decision in my life, it was picking you as my partner to build a family with. I love you.
XO, The Rock n' Roll Doula