Father’s Day without a father

Father's Day CrossCards design

Via CrossCards

Father's Day CrossCards design

Miko Miwa

On May 14th, 2017 I wrote an article about Mother’s Day from the perspective of someone raised by a single mother. In that article, I said that I would write another piece on my complete feelings about Father’s Day, and the time has come for me to do just that.

My father left my mother and I for another woman when I was two years old, and I haven’t interacted with him since I was four. I quite literally do not remember him, and a part of me never wants to. It’s partially my own petty pride, but mostly it’s because of how much his abandonment hurt my mother and I. My little two year old self was extremely aware of my father’s absence, right after he left I used to run to the elevator in our apartment building whenever I heard someone coming, expecting to see my father come back home after such a long time, but it was never him. So it’s not hard to see why my bitterness was so ingrained into me.

At this point in time I no longer feel any weight from the absence of my biological father, because that hole has been filled by my amazing step-father. But, he didn’t gain that position until I was nine years old, so for seven years I was essentially fatherless. I’ll admit, it was hard. For years I was the only person I knew who was raised by a single parent. This made Father’s Day a weird mix of pitying glances and awkward teachers that didn’t really know what to do. Paired with the curiosity of my classmates, I couldn’t help but feel ashamed of this thing that made me so different.

On days when my school would be hosting for Father’s Day events, such as present making and special breakfasts, I tended to sit in the back of the classroom and plan out the best card my little self could for my grandpa. While everyone wrote about how much they loved their fathers, I wrote about how much I loved my grandpa and was waiting for the day he and my grandma would come visit from Japan. It was easy to pretend like I was having fun, but it’s undeniable that at the time I would have rather been anywhere but at school, where everyone else was enjoying themselves.

It became especially hard when my peers would ask about why I wasn’t doing what they were, and I was forced to explain that my family wasn’t normal. Some would pass it off as odd and sad, which thankfully kept their questions at bay. But, there were some kids who were completely baffled, they would look at me incredulously and constantly say, “but you have to have a dad, how can you not have a dad?” It stung, to know that my friends saw me differently, and that my situation was apparently very uncommon. Even just a quick lesson on the existence of single parents would have made my time easier, but I was always left to explain it myself, and as a young elementary school student, I could only do so well.

I don’t blame my teachers for my destined isolation, nor do I blame school for providing students with the materials they need to create gifts all by themselves (as opposed to getting help from the parent who wouldn’t be receiving the gift). But, I wish there was a better system in place for the kids with one or no parents, because there’s a certain humiliation that comes with being alone, and no child deserves to feel that.