My father is a continual disappointment and yet I just can’t seem to help but get disappointed every single time he lets me down. I am 29 years old and I still get upset when he behaves like a spoilt child, why do I do this to myself? Why, when my expectations are so low can he disappoint me and why can I not be strong and just cut all ties? Why do I allow this negativity in my life?
I must admit as I get older and now that I have Boo it is bothering me even more because I don’t want her to be in any way affected by the way he is. The total sum of his grandparenting is to buy her the cotbed and mattress I picked (and probably only because his mother told him to) and to see Boo a handful of times (for about an hour) and buy her an outfit. I am not sure why this surprises me because that was the extent of his ‘parenting’ too and I use this term loosely. Every so many Sundays he would visit my brother and I and take us for lunch, buy us something or give us some money and leave – and that’s when he bothered to turn up.
I remember a lot of Sundays sitting and waiting for him to arrive at 10am like he did on ‘his’ Sundays only for a phone call at 11am to tell us he couldn’t make it. Each time it should have got easier, surely? Expectations lower, less disappointment, getting used to it? But it didn’t. It was just as raw the twentieth time as it was the first time.
My parents split up when I was very little and my younger brother was tiny (thankfully) and luckily I was raised by my wonderful mum and stepdad. I could not ask for a better dad than my stepdad – which is another reason I am confused as to why the disappointment that is my father hurts so much. To my mum’s credit she never ever said anything bad about my father, I literally do not know how she did it, all the things I have later learnt as an adult just makes me realise that my mum really is a saint.
One of my earliest memories is my father calling me a ‘stupid bitch’ because I didn’t want to go with him one Sunday when he came and picked us up and my mum’s rule was both of us go or neither. I also remember one Sunday he did turn up, with one of his friends driving – confusing but all too clear when we got in the car as my brother and I could have gotten drunk from the fumes. He refused to pay any child support to my mum for my brother and I and as he worked off the books my mum didn’t get anything to help her. (Who does that to their children?)
Since becoming a parent I am more confused as to why and how my father can be like he is.
Even now as an adult he continues to disappoint me. When my husband and I got married, for our wedding we decided to walk down the aisle together instead of me being given away. Mainly because I wanted my stepdad to walk me down the aisle but I didn’t want to upset/offend my father. He disappeared off to Thailand two days before my wedding because he didn’t have a ‘job’ to do in it… My mum, brother and his now-wife spent a frantic 48 hours ringing airports trying to get in touch with him to convince him to stay in the UK but he disappeared for over six months. (This was, sadly, not the first time that he just upped and left the UK to go to Thailand, he had done it a couple of years before – sending me one text before switching off his phone… “Jennifer I am going away for a while” – I was at work and you can imagine how frantic that afternoon was – his phone going straight to voicemail. No information. Was he ok? Where was he?)
As it happened my wedding turned out for the best, my stepdad walked me down the aisle and it is his name which stands on my wedding certificate under ‘father’. It just goes to show if you have to make compromises for someone then they really shouldn’t be at your wedding!
My father was still AWOL for Boo’s birth and wasn’t invited to my brother’s wedding which happened 10 months after mine. And now he is going to miss the birth of my nephew, his first grandson, because he has just disappeared off again with not a word of warning to anyone. I had not long got off the phone with my father’s mother when I started writing this post and she has told me that he has gone again, to Thailand. No consideration for anyone else just himself as always. Even a phone call to tell us he is going would be something, a text even whilst he is waiting at the airport? I am not saying he needs to ring us up to ask, but he doesn’t even think enough of us to let us know and that’s what causes the sadness. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it is one of the lesser things he has done to disappoint, though I am not sure about how my brother is going to feel as he will miss the birth of my brother’s first child, just as he missed the birth of mine.
I am not sure how many more times I can deal with being let down by someone who is supposed to care about me. I would do anything for Boo, and I know my husband would too. This is how a parent is supposed to feel towards their children, isn’t it? It makes you wonder, especially as a child… what have I done to deserve this? What is it about me that makes him not care. And as an adult you slowly realise that the fault is not with you, but with them – but this epiphany makes the pain no less, it doesn’t erase the disappointment, doesn’t soften the blows of rejection which litter my childhood, it doesn’t give me back the time my brother and I spent waiting on a Sunday for him to visit.
I have started to ask myself …
Why do I put up with this year after year?
Why do I let him make me feel so bad?
Why can’t I just cut ties all together?
I wish I had the answers