O Father Where Art Thou

Who’s your daddy?  Well I know who my dad is, but I have to get this off my chest.  It saddens me how little my father is a part of my life.  There, I’ve said it.  I’ve written about our relationship numerous times on this very blog.  Now that I’m a dad, it makes me think even more about my relationship with the man I call father…. perspective has arrived.

I phoned my dad on his birthday in July.  That was about a month before Anna was born and I told him how excited we were to become parents.  We chatted for about 20 minutes that time.  It was nice to catch up and hear what’s new in his semi-retired life.  I gave him the due date of Anna’s arrival, talked about our birthing classes, and haven’t heard from him since. 

My dad lives about 90 minutes southeast of Seattle so I don’t get to see him often.  If I’m lucky I see him once a year.  Here’s the catch though, when we meet it’s always me initiating things.  Why am I always the one doing this?  The chances of my dad calling me out of the blue are slim at best.  He always tells me "I don’t want to be a bother".  I called him a few weeks after Anna arrived and left a voicemail.  I’m still waiting to hear back from him.

What really pains me is the effort level.  I know I could be the bigger person and keep calling until I chat with him.  I know I could arrange a meeting where he could meet his adorable granddaughter.  However, why can’t he be more proactive?  When we spoke in July I figured he’d call shortly after Anna’s due date to check in.  Unfortunately that didn’t happen.  Anna is three months old now and I still haven’t heard a single peep out of him. 

Last week we sent out a batch of birth announcements and one was sent his way.  I hope this will jar his memory enough to motivate him to pick up the phone.  I know my dad feels horrible about leaving his seven kids to be raised by my mom.  I know he feels guilty about what caused their separation and eventual divorce in 1987.  Dammit dad, it’s 2007… time to move on!  Shit happens and most people are rather forgiving, especially family.  Please stop playing the martyr card and pick up the phone.  Personally I hate losing contact with friends.  I don’t see how my dad can do it with his children.   Dad, I dare you to bother me, triple dog dare you!


About lessinges

Seattle native, discovering life! I like ice cream, cold cereal, and The Amazing Race.
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32 Responses to O Father Where Art Thou

  1. I pity the fool says:

    I really hope your dad takes you up on your dare. Because he’s missing out on a lot.
    I have a lot to say on the subject of estranged parents based on my own personal experiences, but I will hold off and just say that I hope that the announcement is a wake up call for all that your dad is missing. Big hugs to you, my friend.

  2. Michi says:

    oh, this must be so hard. My dad has a similar relationship with his father, except his father calls him – but to ask for money instead of to see how my dad and our family is doing. It breaks my heart to see how this sort of relationship has affected my dad. It’s made him a better father, but I know it hurts him a lot too.

  3. tori says:

    It sounds like you are really hurt about this. I also can’t understand why parents don’t make more of an effort. People always tell me it is their loss, but since it hurts my kids and also me, it is really everyones loss, isn’t it? I completely understand your feelings on being tired of always being the one to do the calling. I hope, for everyones sake, your dad takes you up on that dare.

  4. Chris says:

    Hey pal, I’m sorry that you ahve to deal with this. I can only imagine how difficult it must be especially after that recont shot of perspective.
    The reality though, and I am sure that deep down you already know this, is he isn’t going to change. Whatever it is that triggers his behaviour can only be affected by him. Given that, you need to decide whether you wanna be angry about it – which is perfectly understandable, or come to terms with the fact that it’ just how it is and accept that you must be the initiator and agressor (much easier said than done).
    Were your dad to pass, would you end up feeling bad or having regrets for not being the one the take the initiative, even that one more time? Wuld you be able to rest easy knowing that you always were the one and this time was his turn?
    I hope however it turns out that you aren’t hurt any more. You are a great dad and a good man.

  5. furiousball says:

    man, i do hope your father connects with you. this is EXACTLY where I don’t want to be as a father years from now. best wishes to you amigo.

  6. *pixie* says:

    Sadly, I can somewhat relate. My Dad has seen Gideon once since we were in the hospital—that was in August. The same trip that I had to remind him that he had forgotten my birthday—the previous August. Granted he lives 6 hours away, but I am his first child. It doesn’t feel good to be forgotten.
    But…it does feel great to have an awareness of what you don’t want to become.
    Good luck with your father. I hope he comes through for you.
    Oh, and I hope we are on that list of announcement recipients.

  7. patches says:

    I would feel the same if I were in your shoes. Does your Dad initiate communication with any of your siblings?
    My MIL is a very withdrawn person, she never initiates contact, but she does issue demands. I think in her case, when the other person initiates contact, she feels wanted and somehow validated. She’s usually glad when someone else makes the contact, but she can’t bare to do it herself for some reason. Of course she is over eighty, hearing impaired, and plagued with dementia…

  8. Airam says:

    Oh Egan. I’m so sorry that you even have to write a post like this. It really does break my heart that your father hasn’t even called or came by to meet adorable Anna. I really hope that he smartens up. It’s hard though and I understand your position. Not that I’m defending him but sometimes people (perhaps moreso in their old age) just don’t think of things like this. He probably meant to call on several occasions but it just slipped his mind for some reason or another. And that doesn’t make it right. I hope that Grandpa Singe comes to see his grandaughter. If not would you be willing to make a 90 minute trek? I’m sure he’d love that too.
    Hugs, hun.

  9. Golden says:

    I can only imagine how your ‘pain’ must be underscored now that you have your very own child. It sort of opens up the wound a little, because you see how much you love your little Anna and you don’t understand how a father could not want to be there, even if it was every now and again. I am blessed. My father is 70 and is very involved. He also took care of my mom for almost 17 years before she died (long story, she had a brain hemmorage, left her severely disabled). He spends tons of time with us and with his grand kids. I am not saying all of this to make you feel worse, but I do have to admit that I am even more grateful for what I do have. I agree, perhaps you will have to be the one that takes all the initiative. He needs to see Anna, and our kids lives are so enriched by grandparents. That being said, you can only do so much. It’s not your fault, but of course, you know that.

  10. Cake Lady says:

    Have you ever thought about just telling him that you forgive him and that you want him to be a part of your life?

  11. sprizee says:

    That royally sucks Egan. I have a few friends that remind me of your dad. I’m always reaching out to them and I know that it gets tiresome always being the one to do all the reaching. Sometimes you just want their current actions to speak louder than their past actions and more than the sum of their words. Go on you for continuing to reach out, but boy howdy, how frustrating.
    I like Cake Lady’s idea of telling him that you forgive him. If you’re completely honestly with him, then at least you’ll know that you did everything you could to get him meet you halfway. Heck, I say print this post, stick in an envelope, throw a stamp on it, seal it with a kiss, and then let it go.
    Easier said, than done, I’m sure.

  12. brandy says:

    Oh Egan I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to have something so amazing happen (ie. Miss Anna) happen in your life and your father not take a more active role in all of it. I think that it takes a big person to keep on trying to reach out- good for you for doing it. This post rang true for me, I relate to so much of this that it made my eyes all watery. I suspect your dad and my dad have a lot in common.

  13. egan says:

    I Pity the Fool – thanks for your understanding. I know you’re familiar with this issue. I would love for him to call, but I’m not holding my breath.
    Michi – I’m very thankful there’s no money involved. It has never been about that. He truly believes he’s a burden on us. For him he think it’s easier not to be a part of our lives. How wrong he is. Ugh.
    Tori – it does really bother me. I don’t get how you can be such an integral part of your kids lives for so long and then nothing. He just disappeared. He doesn’t know my friends names, where my wife grew up, and I bet he doesn’t even know the year I got married. I can’t be asked to do all the work.
    Chris – I know that people don’t change. It’s highly unlikely he will ever take any initiative to do anything. To be honest, it does bother me. Sure I could contact him so I don’t feel bad if he passed away. Here’s where it gets really sticky though Chris. As you know, I’ve lost two brothers. You’d think losing two brothers might make him cherish the living children even more. Sadly it hasn’t. He only talks to one of my brothers regularly. If he can talk to one, why can’t he talk to the others? He needs to be a man and fucking own up. Hurt? I’m not sure I’m hurt, I’m really really disappointed in his character.
    Furiousball – I don’t think you have anything to worry about. You seem good to me and you’re working hard to be there as often as you can. Keep up the great work.
    *pixie* – isn’t that a killer? My heart aches if I think about it too much.
    Patches – I’m not sure. One of my brothers talks to him regularly, but I think my brother initiates the contact. My dad is getting up there in age, 72, but he’s been like this since 52.
    Airam – okay, but how does it slip ones mind that they their child is expecting their first kid? Was he not that excited to be a parent when he was younger? I could drive there, but then you have the weirdness that is the woman he lives with. That opens up another can of worms since she’s like a hermit. She’s got the personality of a wet noodle.
    Golden – you nailed it. The crux of my feelings is Anna. I want her to know her grandparents. I loved my grandparents big time. However I can’t force this stuff. He’s done the same thing with his own siblings. Why is he going to treat me any differently? I know, it’s definitely not my fault.
    Cake Lady – I’m not angry at him. I never have been. I’m highly disappointed, but not angry. I’m honestly shocked how easy it has been for him to forget about us. I can even sort of understand why he left 20 years ago. If I tell him how I feel, it won’t change things one bit. He’ll feel bad and go right back to never calling me.

  14. brookem says:

    I’m sorry to hear about this situation my friend. It really is too bad that your father hasn’t made more of an effort to be a part of your life, and little Anna’s as well. Perhaps saying something would help to open up the communication lines, but then again, I would think that must be frustrating to, because I’m sure you wish it would be HIM to step up to the plate, since you’ve made several attempts.
    I hope something good comes from him getting that birth announcement.

  15. BigBro says:

    Dont hate what I have to say, but I think the martyr title is misplace, my brother. He’s no martyr for me, he is just who he is. Do your best and be comfortable in your efforts, but his change will only be by his own choice. .Or as I trust you to understand this next statement…”god willing”…

  16. Chris says:

    My brother, I wish I had a magic button to make it all better. I really do. You are absolutely right. None of it seems to make any sense.
    I would be happy to give him call and try to talk some sense into him. Anything to make my pal feel better about this.

  17. egan says:

    Brookem – I guess I could try to say something, but I’m not optimistic it would change a damn thing. I know it’s not the right attitude to have, but I think he’ll try to find some excuse. We’ll see if he calls after getting the birth anouncement. Thanks for the encouragement.
    BigBro – when I say martyr, I mean it how he says “I just don’t want to be a bother”. That’s textbook martyr in my book, but I know where you’re going with the comment. My gut reaction is to never initiate shit with him again. We’ll see what happens.

  18. egan says:

    Chris – that’s a very kind offer on your part. I don’t think that would do the trick since my dad’s a bit of a recluse. I might call him on Thanksgiving Day and see how he is. It will be interesting to see how he responds. You’re a good man Chris.

  19. justrun says:

    Oh, we could have some conversations about this, I think.
    I hope you do hear from your dad, and I think it’s a good thing to always keep some kind of light on, even if it’s never seen by him. I’d do the same thing.

  20. egan says:

    Justrun – oh really? Do you have a similar situation with your dad? It’s a sucky one, but there’s not much I can do to change it. By the way, now I have some Belinda Carlisle song in my head. …darling leave the light on for me. I’ll be there before you close the door to give you all the love that you need. Shit, I think I just scared myself by quoting those lyrics.

  21. meno says:

    It looks like not being there for you is a life-long patten for this man.
    Wonder what he would do if you just flat out told him that it would mean a lot to you if he could be the one to make contact.

  22. Diane Mandy says:

    My guess is that your right about the guilt he must feel. It can really be crippling. Or since he left his family, maybe he doesn’t want to pain of being close because he feels he can’t live up. None of this excuses his behavior, and I’m sorry you have to deal with this.
    Your post struck me because I had the nerve to be complaining about my dad today for almost an opposite reason. He is soooo upset about my move to Germany and the stress of his anguish is weighing heavy on me. He’d have all of us, kids and husbands and all, living under the same roof as he and mom. So you can imagine that having me thousands of miles away is very hard for him. After reading this post, I feel bad. I should be thankful for what I have.

  23. Airam says:

    You’re absolutely right … it shouldn’t have slipped his mind and that’s just an excuse.

  24. Tim says:

    That really blows man. I can’t imagine more than a couple days away from my daughter. I already dread her going away to college in 17 years.

  25. JQ says:

    I hope he calls soon.

  26. Carrie says:

    I know he must feel guilty… and avoidance is a tactic often used by people who feel guilty… but he is sure missing out on a lot, especially little Anna.

  27. mama p says:

    That sucks in general. I can’t say anything other than the best way to turn this negative situation into a positive one is to vow to never do that to Anna. I know you won’t.

  28. Tall Chick says:

    My guess is that he’s not playing the martyr, but that he truly has a lot of guilt and thinks that you probably don’t want to see him except on your own time (ie when you initiate contact.)

  29. kirk says:

    I have a similar relationship with my old man. Strange that I withdrew after my parents divorced in 1988. We were never close but now we’re estranged. I see him exactly once a year at Christmas. We chat for a while and he goes off on his way and I go off on my way. We’ve grown apart and don’t see eye to eye on many issues. So the annual visit is nice, but after a while I’m ready for the 11month/29 day break again.
    Good luck getting closer to your old man. It would be nice for the kiddo to know him. But I didn’t really know my dad’s dad and look how I turned out.

  30. Amy says:

    This post actually caused me to dream about you last night. In my dream we were somewhere sitting on steps having a heart to heart discussion about this. When I woke up, I decided to read the comments (that I didn’t read last night).
    I was struck by what Golden said and your response to that comment. I can totally understand why you want him to be a part of Anna’s life but don’t sweat it Egan. I grew up in Anna’s situation. My mom (also second youngest of 7 children) had her Dad walk out on her Mom. I’m not sure how old you were when this happened…she was 24. They never spoke since the day he left.
    I was 4 when he left. I don’t remember a lot about him, but I do remember the day he left. I decided to see him again one day when I was 14 or 15 (which was also the day my brother met him for the first and only time). Neither one of us had any desire to visit with him again, no particular reason, just didn’t feel the need I guess.
    Anyway…neither one of us felt like we were missing out on anything. We were loved and spoiled by both grandmothers and our other grandfather.
    My estranged grandfather died almost two years ago. My mother, brother and I did not attend the funeral and I’m pretty sure none of us have any regrets.
    The only advice I can offer is to accept what ever kind of a relationship you have for what it is. If it evolves into something more like you envision great. Just remember, some things are out of your control. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
    Anna will be just fine no matter what happens 🙂

  31. egan says:

    Meno – I don’t know that I have said it in those exact words, but I’ve come very close. I guess it’s frustrating that I’d even have to spell it out. What’s tough is for the first 13 years of my life my dad seemed to be everywhere and then nothing…
    Diane Mandy – that’s a tough call. I can see why you’d lament over this. You’re newly married and a part of supporting his daughter and her new life is not to second guess your decision to live abroad. I’m guessing your husband isn’t taking the job to avoid your family, but that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Your dad cares for you and part of caring for us is letting us sprout new wings. Yikes, that sounds preachy. Good luck sorting this out and don’t feel bad for complaining about this.
    Airam – it is just an excuse, but perhaps I should give him a Get Out of Jail Free card.
    Tim – yeah, we’re going to Chicago next week and will be spending a night downtown without Anna. I’m already thinking about how much I will miss her.
    JQ – we’ll have to see. I will keep you posted. I hope he still has my number.
    Carrie – you’re right about the avoidance thing. I’m sure he does feel guilty on many levels, but he needs to suck it up and move on. Hell we have and so has my mom.
    Mama P – hello there! I will make sure this never ever happens. I think my dad leaving has made me forge deeper relationships with people in my life. Perhaps there are a couple other reasons too, but it’s a big part. Great Babycenter post about spanking by the way. It provided much inspiration for my own post about the same topic.
    Tall Chick – I think you’re very accurate on the guilt thing. I’ve told him over and over to call me anytime. I want it to be a two way street because communication doesn’t work well if it’s one-sided.
    Kirk – it’s kind of sad how these take on a life of their own. My dad doesn’t know the names of any of my friends. He barely knows where my wife works or her hometown. It’s quite sad. What do you talk to your dad about on that one day of the year you hang?
    Amy – thank you very much for the sentiments. I know what you mean by just accepting how it is and not to dwell on it. It may not seem like it, but it’s not something I give too much thought. It gets to me for a bit and then goes away. The fact is my dad will never be as involved with Anna as my father-in-law who lives in Florida. There’s not much I can do to force that to change. He has to want to do it himself. Thank you for sharing your dream and family story. I didn’t realize we had such similar family numbers.

  32. Lynda says:

    Tell him this.
    My uncle (the youngest brother) did the same thing to my mom. She never knew. They communicate a lot more now.
    So, tell your dad you want him to be in your life more. Maybe he thinks you hate him because of the past. As long as he is living, it isn’t too late.

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