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It feels funny, thinking about the concept of fatherhood. Iunderstand motherhood; I have read novels about the bond between mother and daughter and watchedcinematic performances based on this that can affect peoples’ lives. But fatherhood? What isthe father there for? Honestly, I have never seen the father as the dominant parent in anyrelationship. When I think of families, I see the mother as the one to talk to and pay attentionto.
Do I know why I do that? Of course. For me, there has never been a father. Sure, I havea father, and sure, I spend time with him, but he is not whom I discuss my school problems with,whom I test speeches on, whom I shop with. I don’t borrow his clothing, and he doesn’tmake my morning tea. I don’t find his glasses for him and he doesn’t sit on the couchwith me to cry over a soap opera.
I’m not blaming him for any of this. Sure, it washis decision to leave, and I respect that, despite underlying feelings of contempt and resentment.I still see him every couple of weeks, and I won’t deny that when we’re together, wehave fun.
So why is he not a parent to me? Why am I inclined to respect the mother morethan the father? I don’t think it is because I am a feminist; I honestly believe that if Iwere a boy, my opinion would be the same.
I often wonder what role I would play in mydaughter’s life if that’s how my life pans out. What role would my husband play? Ithink I would have trouble being a parent with a man around because I have no idea what he woulddo, or where my responsibilities would end.
I don’t blame my father for this, either.Do I think he made a mistake leaving? Yes, wholeheartedly. Bill missed most of my growing-up years,and many of my shining moments: my travels, my first squash tournament, my graduation and mydevelopment as a person. What Bill knows is what I’ve told him. He knows that I have apassion for language, and that I want to travel when I’m older. He knows that I’m a 4.0student, and that I’m a perfectionist. But he wasn’t there when I was stressed or sickbecause of my worry over grades.
I feel that because of these missed moments, there is ahole in me, a hole that my mother has filled. My mom has worked so hard to make sure that I nevergo through an important occasion wishing my father were there and so I have always beencomplete.
About now, you are feeling sorry for my father, thinking, Her poor father, shedoesn’t think he requires a special place in her heart! My father doesn’t deserve aplace, but he should have one. My father was gone for almost 10 years, and my mom worked so I couldfeel that they were not years when I missed out, but rather time that my father missed out on me. Iknow I am a strong person, and I have actually benefited from the lack of a fatherfigure.
Tonight, I hear my mother talking to my grandpa and it snaps back at me: she’snot talking to my grandfather, she is talking to her father. She is seriously talking and ventingto a parent. He is being a parent and talking to his daughter. I am shocked when it hits me that mymom has a father. It had never occurred to me that it was Grampie, and that he was a good father.
Grampie is a fantastic person, but whenever I heard stories about my mom growing up withhim, I always saw him as an old man acting like a grandfather. In my mind, the place of father hadnever been filled in my family.
Gommie has always seemed like both a mother and agrandmother, and this is because the position of mother is real, and a substantial thing I canpoint to. But father is an idea, like a point. In geometry this year, we have been learning a lotabout definitions and often been stumped when our teacher asked us to define words we use everyday, like cookie and computer. We all know what they are, and could point them out, butthey’re hard to define. This goes for father, too. I can show you a father, but in my head,he is just a word. I know my friends’ fathers, but to me, they are always just that: fathers.The position seems almost impossible and indefinite in my mind.
To me, having a fatherwould be like having an extra little toe: why do I need it? I have my wonderful mother, I haveGrampie. Bill is not in that category because as much as I feel love for him, he has not shaped meas a person. His choices have shaped me, but my experiences with him have not made me who I am. Heis not a father to me; I am not sure what he is, but his position is not next to my mother in anycircumstance outside of a courtroom.
Sometimes I wonder if all of these people together - mymom and grandparents - are my father. Maybe a father, defined, is the same as a mother: a father isa man who begets, raises or nurtures a child. A mother is a woman who conceives, begets, raises andnurtures a child. So I do have a father; I have people who raise, nurture and culture me. Is thatwhy I have never felt an empty place? Maybe it is because though my mother worked to fill thatspace with others who would be a father to me (not just men). Maybe I don’t recognize fathersin families because in mine, I have not one father, but my family.