Father’s Day has always been a day full of mixed emotions for me, a mixture of happiness and loss.
I’m happy to be a father now, with two great kids. My daughter has now graduated and turned 18 and my son is turning 15 this year and is only a few years away from the same.
I got divorced while they were quite young and I’ve made sacrifices in my career to remain a big part of their lives. Not long after I separated with their mom, I lost my job in a small town. With the kind of work I tend to do, there aren’t always a lot of jobs available in a small town and that has meant moving.
I didn’t do that and I paid a price, career-wise. It was worth it to be with my kids and see them grow up. I’ve never wanted to be the “occasional dad” but to be there all the time for them. I hope I’ve succeeded in that. I surprised myself in that choice too. I had always thought of myself as the “career guy” and when I chose my kids instead, that probably surprised me more than anyone.
The other aspect of Father’s Day that is tough for me is that of the situation with my own fathers. If you’ve ever thought I was a bastard, well, you’d be right. My birth father lives in Belgium (last I’d heard he’s still alive) and I’ve never met him. I wrote once but have never had any contact with him.
I have no expectations of him, but would like to meet him. Considering my age, whether or not I ever will, I don’t know. I know I have two half-sisters too. Why haven’t I met him or them? Perhaps it’s a fear of rejection. God knows they probably don’t know about me. Considering everything that’s happened in the last ten years I’ve certainly been distracted and not necessarily in a positive way. I never seem to have the spare cash to do it and have seriously considered selling a pile of my belongings and dropping everything to settle that question and travel there. It’s not something I have ever really dealt with. I’ve always struggled between my obligations and my wishes. Obligations tend to win out, and I’m not always happy about that.
It’s still not resolved and it needs to be. It dogs me always and I probably don’t fully realize the extent to which it has affected me.
My mom came back to Canada and I was born in Montreal. Eventually she made her way out west to B.C. and she met my step-father. My brother eventually came along, but my step-dad wasn’t going to be around for long, sadly. I think I was about three when he died in a logging accident near Smithers, B.C.
I have some amazingly intense memories of that time. I remember when he died but at least I remember some times before he died. One of the funny ones was when he saved me from our dog. We had a giant white Malamute dog named Muff. One day I was playing outside and Muff grabbed my jacket by the hood and began swinging me around by the hood. Alerted by my terrified screams, my step-dad ran out and saved me. It is funny when I think about it now.
After my step-dad died, it wasn’t long before we’d moved to Prince George from Smithers. My mom made a wise choice, as I don’t think there would have been nearly the opportunity for my brother and I there that there was in a larger city. It was tough to make the choice to move from away from all the family we had there.
A couple years after that, my mom met my next step-dad. Ours has never been an easy relationship. I think it was defined early on.
I was about five and I remember telling him “you’re not my dad.” Yeah, I was that kind of kid. I can tell you many stories.
Thankfully he and my mom are still together after all these years. I think it’s about 35 years. We’ve had some tough times along the way but we’ve been able to work things out.
All of this would explain why I’ve made some of the choices I have in terms of fighting to stay a part of my kids’ lives and in some ways, how I’ve become the person I am (for better or worse). I don’t blame my birth father for not being involved in my life. I am not in his shoes, so I can’t fully understand.
Being a dad hasn’t been easy but it’s been pretty rewarding. I love my kids so much.
Make sure to talk to your dad or remember him today.