I came to a realization the other day. I’ve always wondered why I try so hard to create and maintain relationships that are clearly not going anywhere. Why do I message people who only message me when they need something? Why do I ask people who NEVER want to hang out if they want to hang out? Why do I push so hard, especially amongst guys to work on a relationship that isn’t there? Happy Father’s Day.
My dad was about 17 when he got my mom, who was 15, pregnant. My mom dropped out of school and had me, for which I am eternally grateful obviously. My parents got married and lived together until I was 4, at which point they got divorced. 5 years later my mom told me she was a lesbian, something that I already knew because I’m not an idiot.
Years later I asked my mom if my dad and her got divorced because she was gay and she told me no, that it was because my dad was an asshole. I’d partially agree. I haven’t seen my dad since my wedding day, 8ish years ago. Before that I saw him once the year before so that I could introduce him to my fiancée and once 3 or 4 years before that, simply because I decided to stop by. He’s never met his grandson or granddaughter.
As a kid, I tried very hard to maintain a relationship with my dad. I would call him, ask if I could come over, tell him about baseball games. Occasionally he would tell me I could come over for the weekend, but not often and one time he took me to Upper Clements Park. He paid my mom $83 a year for about a dozen years in child support, $250 for a couple of years and then asked to stop paying as I was now over 16, although still in school.
He didn’t hang around for my wedding reception, which may have had something to do with my family being assholes to him while we were off getting pictures taken, but did leave a very generous gift for us. So there’s that.
Here’s the thing. My dad as 17 years old and got a lesbian pregnant. He completed every court-mandated duty required of a sperm donor, and I’ve always used that as an explanation of how great he is. And yet, I was celibate for a long time out of pure fear of pregnancies (at least that’s what I tell myself) and I try every day to be NOTHING like him. And each Father’s Day, as people post pictures and stories about how great their dads are (which I don’t hold against them, I’m happy for them, honestly…they’re lucky) I sit here and wonder what the hell is wrong with me.
Why would someone not want me? What was wrong with me that made me so undesirable? Ever watch that Fresh Prince episode? Yeah? You know what I mean. I’ve tried for decades to build a relationship with my father. No luck so far.
So why do I try to build relationships that don’t exist, with people I don’t know that well, who don’t care about me in any conceivable way? Because I’ve been doing it since I was 4 years old and it’s hard to teach and old dog new tricks. That’s not to say I’m not trying.
And I try, as best I can, to make sure that my kids know a very different childhood than what I knew.