By Richard Bleil
Before I get to the point of this post, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge those who are reading this because of their own interpretation of the title.
First of all, many people are celebrating father’s day without the guest of honor. Although this is by no means a complete list, there are many reasons this might be the case. So my heart goes out to those who have lost their father. Many people are hurting with these memories. All too many excellent fathers leave us long before their time, and my heart goes out to those suffering on this day.
Another group of missing fathers are those away for their families. The military certainly is included in this list, as those fighting wars (alongside their female compatriots who deserve equal respect and appreciation) in foreign lands. It also includes those fathers away for reasons to take care of their families, like business trips. It seems like, even when the cause is noble and good, anything that breaks families apart is harmful. My compassion for these families, with special thanks for those who are away protecting my rights and freedoms. I know I have said this often, but can it ever truly be enough?
There is a second class of fathers that make for a fatherless day. These are the “absentee” fathers, those who have abandoned their families, either physically or emotionally. The reasons behind these absentee fathers are as varied as there are fathers. One class includes those fathers who are fighting some form of chemical dependency, that is, drug or alcohol addiction. Some of these fathers know that they have a problem and are trying to overcome it, while others have yet to realize that there can never be anything in a bottle, pill, pipe, or needle that is more important than their families. For these fathers, I truly hope you realize what you are losing and find a way to overcome your demons before it’s too late.
Others, like my own father, are just emotionally absent. In my own father’s case, I believe he was just uncomfortable with emotions, but because of this, he pushed me away. I realize there are those who will blame me for not making the effort myself, but I am aware of the many efforts I have made in the past, only to be shunned. When I see some indication that he is ready, I will happily work to rebuild this relationship, but it takes two. I’m done with one-sided efforts. For my father, and those like him, this is also a fatherless day.
Believe it or not, none of these are the focus of today’s post. I wish to speak of my own personal situation, namely, those of us who wish to be fathers but are not. Again, there are multiple categories. Some because of physical problems preventing them from being able to father children, for example.
There are, I suppose, a couple of reasons that I am not a father, although I would very much like to be. I was, for a very brief time, in a position where I could have been a father to four boys, children from my wife’s first marriage, had she allowed me to be so. Unfortunately, she would often remind the children that I am not their father, including on holidays like this one, but more so by telling them that since I am not their father, they didn’t have to listen to me, even when I was trying to support and provide backup for their mother’s instructions. Step fathers need support. If you have a man in your life who may not be the biological father of children who matter to you but wishes to be a father to them, help him out. The children will provide plenty of push back on their own. He may be a strong and proud man, but he needs your help, or the children will never accept him. Help him to be a dad to the children, the kind of dad that the children deserve.
The other reason is very much more difficult and painful for men in my situation. The reality is that I’ve never met a woman who has deemed me worthy of fathering her children, of allowing me to be in her life in that capacity. I know I will get comments from female friends of mine who will disagree, but these women have made their choices to be with men other than me, men who I hope treat them as they deserve to be treated, and who is the kind of dad that their children deserve although I know too many who do not measure up to these standards. I don’t know why I’ve been alone most of my life, but the only logical conclusion is that it is my fault, as there is no way so many women who have crossed my path could all be wrong.
Father’s Day is like an annual cruel joke, a special day to twist that knife and remind me that I will never be a father. It doesn’t matter what kind of dad I would be; never will I have the opportunity to prove myself. To those men who wish they could be fathers but are not, know that you are not alone. It’s okay to feel remorse on this day.
To all of the fathers, and all of the men who wish they were, happy Father’s Day. I wish you all the best.