As father’s day approaches this year I can’t help but think about family and what that means to me. I come from a modern family with challenges of it’s own. Like all families, we have our ups and downs. Some days are lovely filled with laughter and smiles. It even seems like there are birds chirping in the background as we hug it out in front of a beautiful sunset. Other days are quite the opposite with all out screaming matches followed by lengthy patches of not speaking to one another. My family may not be perfect, but it is family. Family is the thing where you are tied together by love even when you can’t stand each other. Family finds a way to work it out at the end because deep down even though we’re all flawed, we love each other and couldn’t imagine a life without these people in it.
Now as for the specifics of my family, when I say I have a modern family with it’s own unique challenges; I mean it. I have two beautiful younger sisters I grew up loving (and getting mad at for playing with my My Little Ponies) and an awesome mom and dad who did one hell of a job with the three girls they had. I grew up in a modest three bedroom house with a huge backyard that had a swing set and yellow playhouse. Every summer my dad would take two weeks off of work to load up the family in the RV and we’d drive out to a lake with our boat. (Yes. We even had a boat and a dog for that matter.) Sounds pretty perfect right? Well that’s because my mom and dad did everything in their power to make life as normal and easy as possible for their three girls they love so much.
What you can’t tell from that picture perfect little blurp about my childhood is that my two perfect sisters are actually my half sisters. (Only by blood. They are 100% my sisters.) My mom happened to luck out and meet my dad (Step dad) shortly after I was born. My mom, being the princess she is, happened to find a real life modern day prince charming. Not only did he treat my mom like a queen and sweep her off her feet, he loved me as if I were his own daughter and even in my awful teenage years never let me think he would have it any other way. They are incredibly cute together too I might add.
So, although I have an amazing dad, (the kind of man most can only dream of being) I also have a guy who I like to call bio-dad. Bio-dad is the dude who donated the other half of my DNA. Growing up, when I found out I had a different dad than my sisters did, I always assumed bio-dad had to be dead. (Again my parents did a hell of a job making me think I was the most awesome person ever so people would be thrilled to have me in their life.) I didn’t think much of bio-dad growing up and I only saw one or two pictures of him. Blond hair, blue eyes, and tall. That’s what I thought of when bio-dad came to mind.
On my 27th birthday I received a letter in the mail at my childhood home. I saw the name on the return address and immediately freaked out. I hid it in my pocket and decided to open it when I got home that night. For some reason I thought opening it at my mom and dad’s house would be offensive to them. I waited until things had calmed down a bit from ‘all the yay it’s my birthday’ type stuff. When I opened the letter, it said that he (bio-dad) was sorry for not being around. He said he loved my mom way back when, yada yada, I was named after his mom.
At the bottom was a phone number to contact him. Being the stupid forgiving person I am, I called that night. You know he didn’t even realize it was my birthday? No biggie. How would it be a big deal to this guy? 27 years had passed and he was probably only paying attention for the first one. We talked for what seemed like an hour. It was awesome. I felt like I was talking to someone I’d known my entire life. We talked regularly for months. I welcomed him into my life with arms wide open. I felt like it was a huge misunderstanding for 27 years and everything was going to come together the way it should be.
Slowly but surely bio-dad started to disappear. Our nightly chats turned into weekly, then monthly, then quarterly. Now I’m lucky if I get a text that says happy birthday. It was a joke. Even when I did call him he was always too busy talking to some new girl he met. He would tell me how he’s telling them about his ‘daughty’ as he liked to call me but never called me back. Within five years of meeting bio-dad he disappeared again from my life. It hurt.
It hurt more than words can express. It hurt the first time finding out that a man fathered me and wanted nothing to do with me. My dad wanted me even though I wasn’t his real daughter and this bio-dad of mine could care less about me. I tricked myself into believing that the 27 years of him not being there was a misunderstanding. I lied to myself and thought he did in fact love me after coming back in my life. I thought he loved me the way a father should love a daughter. I thought after all the time he missed out on, he would do the right thing and be there for me; kind of make up for lost time. My dad is the man that made me think all fathers acted like that.
Bio dad showing up threw a huge wrench in the works with my relationship with my sisters. It hurt my mom. Even though my dad told me nothing changed, (and of course I believed him,) I’m sure it hurt him too.
It takes a real loser to walk away from a life when a child is born. Dead beat dads are the worst. It hurts so many people affected by their apathy. Walking away from a life a second time… there are no words to describe the type of person that does that. Thank GOD I have the family I have.