Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Looking for Daddy
I very rarely post in Alaine's blog space. We blog about different issues and ideas for the most part. She talks alot about our family and children, an area I'm far less competent at writing about. But every once in a while, I have an insight.
I didn't grow up with my father, never even met him until I was 14. Mine was a single parent home. My mother raised me and my Dad simply wasn't in the picture. For the most part, I can only recall feeling sorry for myself about this once during childhood. It was a moment that passed quickly and I got on with life. Having no Dad was just the way it was and how it had always been. While it never really troubled me, paradoxically, I grew up resolving that I would have a whole family one day and that my children would know their father.
Even still, though I understand intellectually that my children love me and that my interaction and presence in their life is important and meaningful to them, I have to confess that more often than not it doesn't feel particularly real and present to me. But sometimes it gets brought home to me with great clarity.
Recently, my 5 year old son had a Daddy's Day at school. On this day, all the Dads were to come for lunch and eat with the kids and hang out with them. I was a few minutes late arriving at the school and when I got there, the children had already been seated in the cafeteria with their Dads at the tables. I walked in and began looking for my son. I spotted him before he spotted me. He was looking for me too. He was sitting at the table, scanning the room, on the lookout for me. It was the look on his face as he searched anxiously for sign of his Dad that I haven't forgotten since: a look of worry and concern, maybe even the beginnings of fear, that his Dad was not going to be there for him, that maybe he had been abandoned. It was a look that told me that while this was perhaps just an inconvenient interruption of my workday for me, that for him it was a big frikking deal. It mattered to him big time. It made a difference to him if I was there or not.
I waved to catch his attention as I strode forward to join him, like a giant through a crowd of elves. For a moment, all I thought was "let me banish that look from his eyes right now". When he saw me, his face lit up like the brightest strobe light you've ever seen (my son has a wonderful smile). He hollered "Daddy" as I came into his view and instantly his demeanor changed from fearful and worried to happy and carefree. We had a wonderful time. But in that moment before he knew I was there, when he was "looking for Daddy", I learned something about how very real and important my presence is to him. I grew up without Dad and its clear to me that I really missed something, though strangely enough, its hard to define what it was. But now and then, I gain glimpses of what I lost through my children, who have what I didn't. I never knew a childhood with my father. My children will never know one without.