I grew up with a single mom and a more than absent father. Looking back, my relationships with the both of them couldn’t have been more different. My mom and I somewhat resembled a twisted version of Lorelai and Rory from Gilmore Girls, while Dad and I, well.. we definitely never had a My Little Princess-themed relationship going for us.
My mom and I call him Houdini. You know, now ya see him.., now you don’t. His many psychological conditions, drug addictions, and emotional disputes moved him seven states away from us when I was around three years old.
Through short phone calls, he made promises he would never keep, and he committed to plans that would never come to pass. Like the time he told me that he wanted to see me for a long and overdue visit, but never showed up. Even though it took a four hour plane ride for my mom and me to get there.
Within the next year, he would go on to make a similar promise. Only this time, my mom didn’t tell me we had plans to meet up. She did this to avoid the foreseeable probability that he’d more than likely break my little heart again.
But being Houdini, he showed up. I barely remember that trip, but I do remember feeling suprisingly frightened when my Mom left me alone with him to pay for some food for less than a minute. In that moment, it was apparent to me he was not my comfort or my safety; Mom was.
After the trip was over, it was no surprise when he disappeared again for roughly ten more years.
When I was little, I remember telling my mom that I missed my dad. But now that I’m grown, I realize that I never missed him. Because, let’s be honest, you can’t miss something you’ve never had.
Actually, I wasn’t missing anything. I was merely wanting something that was never a part of my life. I was wishing for a dad who was nothing like my father. In all honesty, I wanted a daddy like my friends’ daddies.
Because my young self used to fill with envy whenever I saw my friends naturally blessed with overly-involved fathers. I wondered why I didn’t get a daddy who was caring, loving, or at the very least, present.
However cliché it may sound, I wanted to be someone’s “princess” and “sweet little girl” other than my mom who raised me on these very same words. But because of him, that never happened.
It sucks, because we will never get that time back. It sucks, because it is his doing that caused this relationship strain and not mine.
Since my childhood, we’ve rekindled our relationship and I’ve full-heartedly forgiven him. But we will never have a normal father-daughter relationship, and that’s on him, not me.
Luckily for me, my amazing single mom found other men in my life to assume the “father figure” role for me. So even though we communicate with each other nowadays, my father is far too late.
For my wedding, I want my grandpa to walk me down the aisle, and I want my uncles to dance with me for my father-daughter dance. It’s sad, because it should be my dad, but he missed the most important parts of my life and they didn’t.
Unfortunately, time doesn’t go backward, only forward. Once the deed is gone, there is no pretending it didn’t happen. Now that I have kids of my own, I will always treasure the parent who remained steady, and I have more appreciation for my mom than ever.
So if my childhood sounds like the road you and your babies live, your children will be more than okay. Please, worry over bigger things. There are far worse things in this world than growing up without a parent who chose to walk away.
To the single mom and to the single dad raising your kids alone, you are enough.