Invisible Girl

Father’s Day approaching is bothering me so much more than usual this year. Faithful readers know I hate it.  I’ve said so here and here.  And probably other times I can’t remember.

Why is this year worse, you ask? Well, for one, last Christmas, we heard from a previously unknown (at least to me) first cousin, who kindly offered to send us some things of my father’s they had from sorting his belongings after his passing.

We said yes, and she sent the boxes. I think the items our cousin sent are important to my sisters, and I’m happy they have them.  But I’m angry and hurt and dreading that damn day.  Again.  Because when I began looking at the box’s contents, there was not one photo of me, not one mention, nothing.  I was erased.

invisible_woman_by_bishiegiraffe-da47lw5So invisible me is getting anxious already. The ads are multiplying, the celebrations are being planned, and I don’t even think that I existed for my father.  Or as I described him recently during a medical history “the sperm donor”.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Happy Father’s Day

Yes, I know, I know. I’ve told you how much I hate Father’s Day – twice. (If you don’t know, you can read about it here and here.)

But last night and this morning, I had the most beautiful dreams of my mother…she was here, retired, living just down the street, and I woke up smiling.  In the last moment in the last dream, I even got a hug.

imagesSo this is for all the mothers, like mine, who are forced (or choose) to be both mother and father to their children – who make no excuses; who don’t make him a villain even if he is one; who raise daughters (and sons) that know the value of parents even though they only had one – I admire you more than I can say.

 

I Hate Father’s Day: Part Two

I never drew pictures like this...

I never drew pictures like this…

Yes, I know, I’ve already written about hating this day.  (And actually, if you re-read that post now, this one might make more sense.)  This year, though, I’ve finally been thinking about the impact of growing up without my (or a) father.  Despite my uncles, my nono, my priest, and some great fathers I know now, I just recently admitted to myself that I feel like I missed something.  And  that I’m missing something.

I’ve never really understood how to get along with men – especially those in positions of authority.  And no, I don’t think this is solely a gender issue, at least not in my case.  I believe there are skills I didn’t get growing up in a household of women, as much as I love those women.  While I did have a stepfather briefly, for me, at least, it was not a good relationship, and frankly, I was happy when that marriage ended.

The teachers and professors and bosses with whom I have had the most conflict in my life have all been male.  They have also been those I was least likely to confront.   With most women, though of course not all, I seem to have the skills that allow me to raise my concerns or issues and ideally, resolve them.  Put a man in the same position, and I. just. can’t.  And until now – maybe even until today – I blamed myself.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I take full responsibility for my own actions.  But I am finally blaming my father.  He deserves it, and I only wish that I had had the chance to confront him.  (I had a chance.  I was visiting a friend in Charleston, where he lived, and she offered to go with me to his house.  I couldn’t do it.)

So what now?  One thing that I love, love, love, is spending time with my male friends who have kids – without exception, they are amazing fathers.  And mostly, they are amazing men.  (Well, really, they are all amazing men.)  I’m thinking maybe this conversation about male authority figures is one I can have with some of them, assuming they’re willing.  But for sure, the one thing I am not doing ever again is blaming myself for my father’s absence and what I missed.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re now thinking of writing a comment about how this explains why I’m single, don’t.  In fact, stop thinking that.   Just stop.  Now.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  But I would bet you’re basing that thought on an assumption that there is something about being single that requires explanation, while being in a relationship would be “normal” and not require such explanation.  And you would be wrong.

I Hate Father’s Day

Not surprising, right?  Because, as you may recall, I hate Mother’s Day.   But now that the Father’s Day ads have become overwhelming, I’m reminded why I hate this holiday so much, much more.  And for such different reasons.  

See, my father left.  I never knew him at all, and in the only photos I have with him, I’m less than a year old.  He also put up a huge battle against paying child support, including hiding out of state for many years (after a judge in Florida said “if I see you here again, bring your toothbrush”), and not marrying his longtime girlfriend so we couldn’t try to find him that way.  Thankfully, by the time I was in high school, Hallmark had caught up with reality and sold Father’s Day cards for mothers.  Loved that!   (Digression:  I’m not saying there weren’t some great men in my life – my uncles were the best, as was my childhood priest.   But Father’s Day…meh.)

Back to the money, though.  Once my paternal grandmother passed (and my one meeting with her is a whole story in itself, along with the one time I saw (and I do mean only “saw”) my father as a pre-teen), and he moved into the family home back in Charleston, my mother got the order of support enforced.  He paid – until we lost my mother – and then he stopped.  At that point, I was the only one who though pursuing it was worth it, and when he finally died, the only one who thought we should pursue the estate.  

I didn’t, though.  It seemed too upsetting for the rest of my family.

I heard many different reasons over the years for why my father left – not from my mother, who never said a word against him, amazingly, until I was old enough to push her about the money – but from various other family members.  When I was very young – maybe four or five – I overheard the following at a party:  “Nick left because Flora wasn’t a boy.”   I was also told, to my face, in a moment whose cruelty I hope is never matched, that he left because he thought I wasn’t his.  (Another digression: As much as I could almost be a twin to my mother, and to her mother, I have certain physical characteristics that are only recognizable as my father’s.  My ears, for example.) 

And no, I don’t have some profound point I’m making here.  Just that I hate Father’s Day.

I Hate Mother’s Day

I don’t know if it was just this last weekend or even earlier, but I noticed it this weekend – I’m being swamped with ads for Mother’s Day.  They’re on television, on the internet, in my email.  It’s not that I hate mothers, I swear.  I just can’t take the pressure. 

A favorite photo of my mother, me, and my sisters. I was about three or four.

When my mother was  alive, we celebrated her – on Mother’s Day, on Father’s Day, on any day we could.

But the rampant commercialism that is typical of any holiday or day of celebration (Administrative Professionals’ Day, anyone?  I got about 20 emails for that one alone – it’s today, if you didn’t know) makes me crazy.  And a little bit sad. 

Not because I wish I could buy my mother tacky shit at the Hallmark Store – if I wanted to buy that shit, I could find some mother to receive it – but because of the implication that we should limit our appreciation to this one day.  And that our appreciation is enhanced by tacky shit.

What’s my point, you may ask?  Well, I’m not sure I have one, except hey, celebrate your mother.  Celebrate your father.  Celebrate all of your family – and friends.  And don’t wait for Hallmark to tell you how or when.

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