My father wasn’t there for most of my childhood. There was no father-son time at sporting events. No bike riding lessons and, perhaps most painfully, no loving fatherly talks.
From a very young age his limited presence became the norm. All the puffy cheek wishes atop lit birthday candles and late night tears atop He-Man pillow cases were never enough to make him appear.
Still I defended him resolutely whenever his name came up in critical discussion at my home. At the time I had no explanation for my blind loyalty to a man who had been a perpetual disappointment.
As the father of an incredible five-year-old boy, I have a better understanding of that immovable innate bond between a father and his son. I also have a better grasp of the psychology of parenting and how a child interprets a parent’s absence as an indictment on their self-worth.
When my mother died my father and I were literally thrust upon each other. I was a headstrong teenager. He tried to play the role of a disciplinarian. And so we endured a tempestuous relationship.
There were days I resented his presence. I longed for a return to the status quo, me living with my mother and for him to once again become an occasional face.