I was a Dad Once

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I was a Dad once. Not all are so privileged.

Submitted: November 11, 2011

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Submitted: November 11, 2011

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I Was Once A Dad.



Kids are everything we have grown to both love and hate.  We hate the screaming and the fighting. The constant badgering for things they don't really have an actual use for and will have broken in a matter of minutes.  The incessant "need" for this or that - always something rather unimportant, in truth.  The manner in which the way another person looks at them makes their entire existence seem bleak.  Their undeveloped social skills and the importance they put on matters that are so trivial that we would not even consider them, ourselves. Then they smile at you.  Maybe even a giggle.  That rare bit of magic that even a full grown adult, a rational and sane human being, has to sit and stare at in awe and wonder.

Days, weeks, months... years.  They all seem to flow by so quickly.  Never enough time.  Never enough patience.  Never enough money.  Seems it is a constant struggle for this or that.  A bill.  Some fee. A car part.  A bicycle part.  Papers to sign.  Permission slips.  Drivers license.  Always some need, great or small, and usually no way to do it.  

We seem to do it nonetheless, don't we?  I still don't know how.

Being a parent, mom or dad - either way, is troublesome and taxing.  To say the very least. Even from the moment we find out we are to be parents everything in our lives changes more drastically than anything we could have imagined. A million things to buy.  Ten thousand pieces of “advice” that we never take.  Every room in the house has to change.  Free time is gone.  Quiet is gone.  Peace is gone.  Money is gone.  Day trips are now replaced by field trips.  Our refrigerators go from classy and delicious to cheap and plentiful overnight.  Never enough toilet paper, tooth paste, bandages.

There are parents without the benefit of having had their children born unto them.  Marriage, relationship, adoption.  Doesn't matter how.  Theirs can be a unique struggle.  Always trying to learn the ways of a child, a person, whom they have not been able to watch develop.  Can be challenging to guess their motives or what their behaviors might be and why.  To know if you are right or wrong.  To want to do your best, never knowing how that child really feels about you.  They may hate you and not say it.  They may love you and not say it.  Maybe you are doing wrong and don't know it.  Maybe you are doing right and don't know it.  Someone always tell you that you are doing fine, but it is never the one that really counts, is it?  Always some involved adult, never the child.  

There are parents whom have no children at all, in fact.  They may not have any, but they care for them, nonetheless.  The neighbor that always seems to have the time for a child’s questions, maybe even a snack.  The teacher that loves, year after year, every bright new face they see – helping them to learn new things and find out for themselves who they really are and want to become..  The fireman that makes sure he has that one extra stuffed toy in the back of the truck just to find a smile amongst the tears and heartache.  The lady at the store that always has a treat and remembers their names.  The old man across the street that helps fix broken toys and tells stories, now that his children are gone and taking care of children of their own.

Anyone can be a father or a mother.  All it takes is some time to kill and a few chemicals racing through our bloodstreams screaming at us to share that time together.  Easiest thing in the world.  That doesn't mean that the person is going to be any good at it.  Doesn't make them responsible enough to manage their lives and the life of a child.  Doesn't insure that money will come in.  Doesn't guarantee food on the table.  Doesn't insure that the hard things that pop up every day will be handled in an intelligent and just fashion.  Yes, anyone can be a father or a mother.  Doesn't mean they should be.

Nevertheless, there is a magic in two simple words that so many of us take for granted.  Two words that mean life, love, happiness, security, comfort, knowledge, discipline, reverence, safety...  Two words that tell you unquestionably that you did something right.  That you are loved.  That you meant something.  That all your efforts were for a very good cause.  That time will sort out all of those challenges and make sure that everyone comes out of the chaos just fine.

“Mom” and “Dad.”

I have a child I did not meet until he was grown.  I was young and his mother thought she was doing the “right thing” by letting me live my life unencumbered by a child.  She didn't tell me until he was almost 18.  We met for about 5 minutes.  He doesn't talk to me.  I'm not his Dad.  
I have another son I have never met.  His mother was dominated by her family and I was from the wrong side of the tracks, so-to-speak.  Meaning I was too poor and was not in a good enough profession. We were young and fought a lot.  Eventually her mother arranged things so I would not be present.  I stayed away after that so that his life wasn't one of chaos and disarray.  Custody battles tear kids apart at the seams.  I never have been allowed to see him.  I don't even know if he knows who I am or that I am his father.  I'm not his Dad.  
I have 3 now by marriage.  Their natural father is in California, making promises he never keeps and only calling them to find out what their mother is doing or to keep up appearances.  For my part, I try very hard to take care of them.  To make sure there is food and money and the things they want, if I can.  They call me by my first name and they go about their day without much mind to me.  Mostly they ignore me unless they have to talk to me for some particular need.  I'm not their Dad.  

But once...

We were only together for 5 years.  She was young and thought she missed out on the joys of her life because she had children so early.  Wonderful children.  They had my heart and I had theirs.  I was their “Daddy” and they were my little girls. Helped them learn to read, taught them to swim, bandaged them up when they would scrape their knees, went with them to meet new teachers, laughed when the older one discovered that she actually liked boys.  She came to me when she bled for the first time.  Asked if I could take her to the store for “woman” products.  I got the car keys out.  The younger one would wake from a bad dream and sneak into our room.  She always rested her head on my chest and fell asleep to the sound of my heartbeat.  She had a bad habit of stealing the jalapenos off of my pizza.  Loved spicy food, hated sugar.  Odd.

Their mother found a new friend that was in college. She hung out with her a while and started tromping off to parties a fair bit.  Then they went to Canada to see a band.  In their hotel room.

Needless to say that relationship was over.  The unfortunate bit is that she was angry at me for things ending so horribly.  Angry enough that I could no longer see the kids.  Certainly I was to blame in it as well.  Break-ups are never one-sided.  We fought over meaningless things.  My greatest fault was that I stayed in a bad relationship for 5 years because I love my daughters.  

I ran into the eldest a few years later.  A bit more grown up and about to start high school.  She told the friend she was with that I was the best Dad anywhere.  The visit was all too brief.  I went home and cried.  I woke up still crying.  Several years later the tears have not subsided.

I, too, was once someones Dad.  But that was long ago.  It still breaks my heart.

 


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