This is an open letter to all the single fathers out there, grinding down to the bone.
I would first like to start off by saying I am proud of all you. It may not mean much coming from a complete stranger. Being a single father of two beautiful boys, I understand what it’s like to give your unwavering focus and attention and time.
Science and psychology studies are proving more in depth how important it is to have a positive male role model. As well as the long term effects on not having such a figure around.
Personally I can say that growing up without a father, being abandoned by another person who was at one point like a dad to me. Definitely changes your perspective. Especially the way you view and initiate relationships.
As for my biological father, it is pretty much the A-typical story. He was never really around. Not enough for me to actually miss him or truly ever even think about him.
I was more attached to my mother’s new partner whom she had spent 8 years with.
This was the gentleman I came to identify as my father figure. He was the one who did all the normal outings with us. Took us camping, played ball and everything between those lines.
When he and my mother split up I was fourteen. I would still see him really often and have sleepovers at his place. Until he reunited with his ex-girlfriend. To premise this, he had left this woman all those years ago to be with my mother. As he started seeing her more and more. I began to hear from him less, see him less. I was young but still old enough and aware to understand what was going on. His ex-girlfriend was jealous and that any time he would call or even pop by my place to say hi. It would pose a problem for him, causing a fight between the pair. It was ironic because for many years he lived but three streets away. As that relationship deteriorated I didn’t seem to be affected by it.
At least not until I was sixteen going on seventeen, trying to make sense of life. Searching for an identity for myself. That is kind of when the reality started to hit. My mind was maturing, personality wise I feel like I was on a pursuit to understand what it was to be a man. It was only the beginning of a naive endeavor.
It was in those moments where I started becoming lost and sure about life in general.
Wondering why these men, who were supposed to love me unconditionally. Protect me and guide me through the little nuances of life were nowhere to be found. Why are they not here? Why do they no longer love me? It was at that point where I became even more shy and reserved than I already was. I guess you can say I was angry. Harboured alot of resentment.
I was just turning eighteen when my biological father had contacted me. Wanting to see me and possibly develop a relationship. Of course I was still upset with him, but the boy inside me still wanted a “Daddy.” I took a train down to Toronto to see him for the first time since I was about six years old. I had an insanely good time. I was feeling high on life in that moment. As the following year progressed I came to a few sudden realisations.
The first realisation was that he was still the same person as I remember when I was younger. The type of man who always put work absolutely first. The unreliable type, the dad who would make plans only to never show or come up with valid reasons why. Showing little remorse.
The second realisation was that. This is who he was. I had learned about some troubling things from his past childhood from my mother. Which ultimately explained why he was the way he was. No one had taught him how to be a good father, or a decent person for that matter. Knowing that this was who he was, gave me the closure I so desperately needed years ago. I was no longer angry, I had forgiven him. Understanding that if I were to continue a relationship with him this is all I would have to expect. That nothing would change on his end.
The third realisation was that. I no longer felt like I needed him around in my life. After understanding who he was. It was really answers and clarity that I needed. That I would transcend this genetic line of parental nightmares. I was not him and I never had to be him. We didn’t owe one another anything. It was in that moment I started to figure out who I was. After that we talk sporadically. But nothing much.
How did this all affect me? Overall it manifested itself in my confidence. I was afraid to see anything through, any project I started or idea I had was gone as fast as it was started. Even the things I was passionate about such as writing and playing guitar. I would start up and go all crazy letting it consume me. To not even giving it a second thought. I dropped out of school, was back and forth in adult education. I was much happier quitting and letting myself fail rather than trying and potentially failing. I think it was ultimately because I was trying to hide my true feelings. Trying to mask how sensitive I had truly become.
Now fast forward years from then. I am now twenty-seven with two children. My oldest is turning seven and my youngest five. I had my first one and twenty years old. Currently I have them full time. And I’ve had them full time now for the last two years. The mother only has them one day a week, that’s a whole big story that I will get into another time.
In spending every waking moment with them. The true meaning of fatherhood could not be more clear.
There’s going to be a time in your child’s life where you are unsure how to answer their questions. Just say that you don’t know, that you will find the answers together. The truth is we don’t have them all anyway. Learning as we go along. Encouraging critical thinking, letting them know that’s it’s okay not to know everything. And most importantly making them hungry for knowledge. To question everything.
Being in charge of two living beings 24/7 is not always easy. With utmost certainty. You will find yourself mentally taxed and exhausted. More often than not. You may lose your temper, maybe a little overly strict.They are our babies after all. And that’s alright you aren’t perfect. I’ve yelled, I’ve dismissed, outright just broke down in a fit of tears. Your child should know that your just human, don’t just apologize for your mistakes but explain to them what they are, why you acted in such away. How your working on them and what you expect from them going forward. They listen way more than we notice. Of course you will have to repeat yourself many times.
And as a father it’s natural that we want to raise strong resilient kids. We want them tough. But that’s not enough, we also want them to be thoughtful, caring and sensitive to others feelings. And that starts with us. It means tending to their beautiful little hearts constantly. It means constantly making ourselves available and most importantly, vulnerable. Ripping out hearts open wide, even to old wounds if it would serve the purpose of a lesson.
According to the Census bureau and Statistics Canada. There are 1.5 million single parent households. Roughly 2 out of every 10 single parent households has a dedicated father running it. The number of single fathers seems to be going on a rise. That’s a hell of a lot of single parents.
I just want to take the time to applaud you. I wish you and your children nothing but the best in life. There is nothing more important in life than family. We hear far too much about deadbeat dad’s. It’s time to start recognizing the good ones. And not just on “fathers day.”
Give them everything that you were missing or wish you had growing up. Stay close and never lose hope. You are strong and fierce. And you are amazing, doing so much with so little. Believe me when I say, not only do you need but deserve a little break. You’ve sacrificed so much and at I am sure at some point in time you may or already feel unapraciated. But you are loved and idolized never forget that. When it all comes down to the end they will always remember one thing, who was there. And every milestone they hit you will be there; cheering them on. And they will come to you constantly for support and validation. Because you are “Dad”
Keep on fighting the good fight. Keep up the good work and most importantly never give up your love!