Yes, I do know my father. I used to spend all my summers, well most of my summers visiting him. I would hang out with my two brothers (I have three, all by my father's side), but two that lived with my father. Those were fun summers. Back in those days whenever my mom would scold me, my first retort would be "I want to go live with my daddy!" (You know how ungrateful kids can be). She would either ignore me or when I really wore her out she would just say, "Go on no!"
Growing up, I didn't miss having a father at home. There are so many single parent homes nowadays that children who actually had fathers at home were in the minority. Truth is, I never realized how much I missed growing up without a father until I became an adult. I began to interact with persons who had very close relationships with their fathers: the kind of fathers who spoilt their "little girls" who would give them anything, and protect them from everything.
I envied them; it was my greatest desire to have a similar relationship with my father. I wanted to feel comfortable enough to pick up the phone and cry to my dad, share a joke with my dad, or just plain and simple talk to my dad. I was so detached from my dad that my fiancé did not meet him in person until days before our wedding.
As an adult, I now reflect on how challenging it must have been for my mom to grow up a child all on her own. She was always so strong and positive. We weren't rich but I certainly didn't want for anything. How on earth did she do it? I think about how stressful and depressing it must be to have no one with whom to share your dreams, your fears, or your challenges. To me it’s an insurmountable task. Yet, she did it, and she never once expressed regret.
I worship my mom (that's an understatement), and I take my hats off to all single parents.
On the other side of the coin, I reflect on the impact that not having a father has had on me and my relationships with men. I have always approached relationships very nonchalantly: with no expectations. My father was not around, so I never expected a male to stick around either. If they did, I usually didn't know what to do with them. After all, how do I learn to treat a man, like a man, when I never grew up with one?
Thankfully, my hubby was never fazed by my nonchalance. No matter what, he was always committed to making our relationship work. He stuck around, and never gave up on our relationship even when he had good reason to.
I have always been fiercely independent. That's all I know how to be. I grew up with a mom who depended on no one. My husband has somewhat changed that part of me but I assure you it wasn't an easy task. It took a while before I learnt to consult with him before making major decisions, or to rely on him for support. I always thought I could do it all; it continues to be a process, but I have come a far way.
I still harbour the fear of becoming so dependent that I forget how to function. What if I wake up one day and my support is pulled from under me?
I can be selfish, well, this is a combination of two things: I grew up alone. Aside from my mom I had no one around with whom to share. There wasn't a man in our home for me to see how to be mindful of him, or how to be kind to him. It has been teething pains as I try to get into the mindset of always thinking of two -- it’s no longer just me.
I struggled with low self-confidence for a great portion of my life. I know this comes as a surprise to most, but I harbour thoughts of self-doubt. My mom was my greatest cheerleader, but I don’t think anything replaces the boost of confidence that a father can give to his daughter. Think about it, nothing can beat the feeling a little girl experiences when the most important man in her life affirms that she is beautiful, and encourages her to be confident.
Here's where I think my hubby has been most influential. I have never had a better cheerleader. Next to my mom, I have never met anyone who has shown so much confidence in my ability to succeed. Everything that I have accomplished in our relationship since we have met I owe to him. He believes in me even when I don't.
At my wedding my mom secretly requested a father/daughter dance. As the DJ played Luther Vandross’ “Dance with My Father Again,” I listened to the words of the song, and I started crying. I cried because I couldn’t relate to the words. This was the first time in my life I had ever danced with my father. Like so many other girls, I had missed out on being a “daddy’s little girl”.
So having brought all this baggage to my relationship it is a wonder my hubby still decided to marry me! I guess love defies all logic, but I am happy he did because now I am learning how to be more open, less selfish, more considerate and always committed. After all, our vows did say for better for worst, in sickness and in health, till death do us part!
I love you honey, and I love that you love me with all my imperfections.