Saturday, June 16, 2012

Any Other Sunday

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Father's Day. My day to reflect upon the fact that I've never turned any man into a father. Certainly not a daddy.

Speaking strictly in scientific terms, Ralph is my father. I met him in 2010 just before Christmas. Well, "met." On Facebook. In 1969 he was my 16-year old mom's 17-year old boyfriend. It has been wildly interesting, finding him now, exchanging messages online and learning "his side" of making a baby he never saw -- apparently my grandmother threatened to have him killed if he ever darkened her door again. You'd have to know her to know how believable that is...there were rumors that she had nefarious underground connections in the Italian neighborhood. Here's the first thing Ralph wrote after accepting my Friend Request.

We haven't met in person yet. He's a full time musician, a drummer. Because of course he is.

I didn't make Lou into a dad. Not really, though in adulthood we get along better than when I was a child. My mother was a fiery little flower-child with a 3-month-old when they met duirng some rare "mom's night out" at whatever dance clubs were called just before disco. His huge family never warmed up to me except for one cool aunt. Just about every disappointment that chipped away at my self-worth right up to college could be attributed to feeling ostracized by that lot. Isn't that called Red-Headed Stepchild syndrome? Lou's sole contributions to my upbringing consisted of driving me to doctor's appointments, never once coming in, waiting in the car and bitching about it for a hundred hours a day. He was mad a lot. Yelled all the time. He's mellowed a thousand percent now, and in retrospect I understand how much pressure he was under -- we were poor as fuck and my mother didn't work. Dark days.

I didn't make a dad out of Hub. We met in high school drama club where I stage managed and he did lights. Friends up until college, then more. Hub and I moved in together after college. Ten happy years and we parted as friends. No really -- no fight, no voice was ever raised in anger -- I just knew that we had no future together, so it had to end. He put up no fight, demonstrating that he could feel it too. But I always knew that Hub would be an excellent dad, based on the fact that he is patient, sensitive, and that finds everything so interesting. Sitting at a diner, "Did you know that ketchup is a solid?" Kids love that kind of thing. Oh, and Hub loves games, and making just about anything into a game. Pulling up the duct tape from where cables were taped down for safety in the theatre, Hub makes a "tape ball" he and his crew friends would then hurl at each other. Sandcastles on the beach for hours, and because he is an engineer his castles could pass OSHA inspection. Now, he has two beautiful, perfect children with Kelly (gorgeous, smart, funny) and those kids will grow up to be stellar adults.

I didn't make a dad out of Joe in the ten years we've been together. Joe's mother would have liked nothing more than grandbabies. I don't know what kind of dad Joe would make, and he doesn't really know, either. He's my best friend, so smart, so talented, funny and sensitive, a jillion other great qualities. But we love the life we've set up here. It's serene. We check in from time to time to make sure we're still in agreement that we aren't cut out for giving our existence over to astoundingly loud, soft-headed, expensive, tiny bald people who never sleep and wear a bag of poo. Parenthood is for other people.

Maybe in some weird way, all of these guys are a father pastiche, an aggregate collected over time and synthesized into something that's only for me.

Well then. Happy Father's Day, gentlemen.


  1. It wasn't your job to make your bio father or step father into a real dad. Instead, it was their job to transform themselves into dads. THEY needed to dedicate themselves to taking care of you and helping you to be a better person. Being a dad doesn't just happen, it takes thought and effort on the man's part. As a child, there was nothing you could have done or said to make either of these men in your life into a role model. That's their failure not yours. You're experience is proof that it takes more than biology or a court order to create a true dad. Since you learned this the hard way, you realized that there was a hell of a lot more to parenting then just making a baby. Even if you had opted to have kid(s) with Hub or Joe, you still couldn't have made them dads. You could have only given them a biological connection to another human being-- they would have needed to do the rest.

    BTW, I think a cat or two sounds like a great idea.

  2. Oh I don't look at any of this as a "failure." It just didn't happen. If it's a cloudy day I wouldn't say the sun failed that day. But you make a good point about role models. I will ponder who my "male role models" could have been...

  3. ...I have thought it over and I think they were Willy Wonka, Mike Brady and Superman.

    A girl could do worse.

  4. That was a bad choice of words. I didn't mean to imply you failed in some way. I was just trying to point out that a child can not create a responsible, engaged parent. That is the parent's job and there is no way a child can force a parent to be responsible and engaged if the parent is unwilling to do that. I was responding to this quote: "I've never turned any man into a dad." In any case, this post and the "What am I, an asshole?" post gave me a lot to think about. BTW, Willy Wonka, Mike Brady and Superman aren't too bad as far as role models go.

  5. Jeff & I often (bitterly?) wonder what we would have been like had we have had awesome (or, at least, not terrible) dads.

    Jeff's an awesome dad because in situations, he thinks to himself "What would George do?" (his stepfather), and he does the exact opposite.

    I worried about being a good mom, based on what I went through growing up, but it was great to learn that I've apparently moved beyond it. And I don't have the same issues my parents had.