After recently watching my 4-year-old daughter playing soccer, I realized the best lesson I’ve learned from growing up without my father was how to be a father. My father left when I was around three. I grew up with my mom and older brother. I also have a younger brother who grew up with my father; he and I share different mothers. I don’t fully know or understand the views my brothers have of our father; however, my experiences are a blend of love, miss-trust, anger and resentment.
I have vague memories of my father, but the first real memory that always comes to mind was as an adolescent. My father and I went to an award ceremony for my baseball team and after I had received an award it was time for the father-son softball game. It was the first time I can remember getting a chance to play with my father and show off my abilities. It was my mom who taught me how to play baseball and would take me to every practice and game. Yet instead of playing in the softball game, my father said we had to go. I remember driving by the filed watching the fathers and sons play and realizing my hopes were dashed, and realizing the chance of a true relationship with my father went with them.
Often times I grapple with whether I would have been better off with my father in my life. Would I still have all the insecurities I have? Would my mother have struggled as much as she did, would she have more self-confidence as a woman? The reality is I can’t even imagine what having a father is like. To me it would never feel “normal” and I’ve pretty much cut myself off emotionally from my father. I admit I’d love to be able to forgive and move on but I’m not sure if forgiveness can ever be fully realized. Still, I acknowledge that not growing up with my father has shown me how to be a present father with my daughters. I am fully engaged in my daughters lives and I constantly challenge my oldest to never be scared, to take risks and shoot for greatness. Are you able to forgive those whom you trusted but have harmed you the most?