In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to publish a piece that is very personal to me.
I often liken my life to the Cinderella fairy tale. If Cinderella’s mother had not died, but was an alcoholic junkie, who revoked her rights as mother. If Cinderella’s father had not been a king, but rather an iron working biker. OK, OK, it’s not very much like Cinderella at all. It is my fairy tale though.
So, let me take you there. . .
In the 1980’s the “single Dad” didn’t exist. Especially, not the single dad like mine. My dad was a rebel. He had long hair, rode a motorcycle, went to work, and did his thing. He wore a grim reaper ring, and took care of his giant German Shepard’s. I’m sure if someone had told him back then, he would soon be solely responsible for a baby girl, he would have told them where to go, and how to get there. He was
“that kind of guy”. My father met my mother a few years before I was born, and made it very clear he had no interest in having children. Well, as you can see, we all don’t come from the best intentions.
In October of 1985, I was born. This long-haired rebellion, I call Daddy, fought for a healthy pregnancy, my name, and sole custody. My dad was determined to raise me. He had help, but in the early days it was just he and I. In the 80’s there were no family bathrooms, no parenting classes, and certainly no paternity leave. There was no internet full of resources, no 24-hour nurse hotlines to call, and no child care assistant programs. Traveling for work was a real challenge with an infant. Passing on jobs that would take him away for weeks, made it difficult to maintain a ” typical ” lifestyle. Not to mention, an infant car seat doesn’t exactly fit on the back of a Harley. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’m sure the stress was overwhelming. Not to mention entering the paradox of parenthood alone. I’m sure he was confused and scared, but I’ve never heard him mention that once.
It’s not like he didn’t have options. My dad could have left me with family members, and been a weekend Dad. He could have just walked away, and ventured back into my life when I was older. I wouldn’t have blamed him for taking a different path. I wouldn’t have blamed him, but I’m eternally grateful for the choice he did make.
The influential time I spent with my father is known as “bonding time”. It’s when a baby develops senses of comfort and safety. The important time is never remembered by the child, but still shapes them into the people they become. Our take on fatherhood is so different now than it was back then. In the “baby world”, we encourage fathers to participate in pre-natal exercises and skin to skin bonding with newborns. We now understand the importance of each parent’s role in “bonding” with baby. My Dad will take his claim to fame as a trailblazer here.
I’ll let him tell his own story about being a trailblazer. I’ll tell you how being a product of this man has made me into who I am.
I am a feminist. Yep, a man raised a feminist. My dad raised me to know that when I stand up for something, I’ll be asked to sit down. Never sit down. When I am aggressive, I’ll be called a bitch. A man will be called assertive. Be aggressive anyways.
I was raised to be a humanitarian. When you believe in something, don’t give up. He didn’t raise a quitter.
When you are empty, give what you have, that is enough. My father taught me to love animals and people. Take in a stray animal, or person. Love is powerful, and it is your legacy.
He taught me empathy, which is so hard to teach. To put yourself in another’s shoes before you judge them. My dad taught me how to love, and be loved. He taught me how to stand up for myself and how to serve those who have served you.
My dad taught me how to look in the mirror and love yourself, even if no one else does. He gave me confidence and strength. He gave me love and guidance. He parented like a full-time job. Something that is rare, even today.
I could write to you from now until Timbuktu about all the amazing ways being the product of a single dad affected me. But I won’t, I’ll leave you with this. I was not abandoned, I was loved. I am not a tom boy. Although, I can do many tasks taught primary to men. I am not a princess, although I wear a crown. I am not afraid of men, or power, or being challenged.
The most curious of all perhaps, my maternal instinct. Today after 30 some years, I am a mother. I’m a Doula, specializing in post-natal care. I’m that lady, who mothers the shit out of everything and everyone. Who would have thought? All this motherly love came from a Dad.
Happy Father’s Day to my best friend.