Dad Envy

My eldest daughter is about to turn six “and a half” (half years are celebrated in our house – not with cake, but at the very least with a high five) and it recently occurred to me that I was almost exactly the same age when I came home from school to the news that our father had left us.

Thirty-one years have passed since then and my memory of it is somewhat hazy, but I do remember being very upset and then watching Bewitched because Mum said it would cheer us up. It did. I was too young to question Darren’s ridiculous rule about not mixing witchcraft with housework, I had yet to realize that Endora was not a villain but simply a progressive feminist with a dry wit, and I distinctly recall wasting countless hours trying to tidy my bedroom by twitching my nose. (Unfortunately it didn’t work then, and having attempted it several times during the last few years I can confirm it doesn’t work now.) Regardless of its shortcomings, Bewitched served an important purpose for us that afternoon and will therefore always hold a special place in my heart.

But back to my actual point…

Our father didn’t really care to have much to do with me (or my sisters) aside from the occasional every-second-Sunday trip to the African Lion Safari (a long gone theme park where one drives around in their car amongst lions and emus – fantastic place, although perhaps not if you’re a lion). He was never terrible – never physically abusive or anything – he was just never really interested in us.

He didn’t say as much of course, but over the years there have been little clues… Like the fact that my sisters and I only found out about him remarrying when we chanced upon a wedding photo displayed in his house. Or the fact that he is incapable of recalling my surname, or the names of my husband and children. There have also been bigger clues – like when we were faced with the enormous task of flying my critically ill oldest sister home from the UK where she had tragically and unexpectedly collapsed and fallen into a coma at the age of thirty-one, and he suggested we just leave her there – alone.

Suffice to say he was not the Dad you would pick if you had your choice – and I thought I had made my peace with that. But somehow lately, when I see the kind of Dad my husband is to our kids, the enormity of what I have missed out on has begun to dawn on me.

My husband is a fantastic Dad in every way – as I knew he would be…

For example, a few months ago my daughter was very nervous about going to school one Monday morning after a major scootering incident over the weekend had left her face looking, shall we say, “interesting”.  I didn’t know what to do – I could understand her trepidation (we had only just moved interstate and she was still making new friends), but one day at home on the couch was not going to solve things. Hubby volunteered to take her to school that morning, and off he went wearing a purple super hero mask that remained on until he came back out of the school grounds. Lots of play-acting and wacky shenanigans took place in the classroom that morning, and our girl was so thrilled she forgot all about her unsightly scabs.

In short, he is the type of Dad who is happy to pretend he has a bee stuck inside his head for a full half hour as long as he keeps getting a laugh. If he were a stay-at-home Dad, the kids’ days would be full to the brim with giggles. It would be a time reminisced over in years to come as delightful, carefree, and full of riotous fun. Of course, everyone would have toast and ice cream for dinner and I suspect none of us would ever have any clean clothes to wear – but these things are mere trifles…

Hubby is not only about fun and games though. He is also an excellent teacher, great at giving recognition for a job well done at the perfect moment and in the perfect way, a strong believer in the importance of family rituals, and exceptional at providing stern feedback when needed in such a way that our kids still walk away feeling loved.

Sure, last Saturday he told our daughter that he had done a fart and named it after her, but as I explained to her at the time – you can’t have everything…

As I watch hubby go about being a fantastic Dad to our three little children, I sometimes imagine the Dad he will evolve into as they grow up, and I can’t help feeling a slight twinge of envy. I could really do with a Dad like that.

Luckily for me, the Universe has a way of making up for things. Hubby has a great Dad of his own, and I am allowed to borrow him…


6 thoughts on “Dad Envy

  1. Loved it!! Laughed out loud at the naming of a fart in your daughter’s honour…how impressed she must have been!! I also suffer bouts of Dad envy. It would have been nice to have a father who cared enough to do the things that fathers are supposed to do….attend your graduation, advise you on career choices, remember your birthday, mention perhaps when they were getting married!!! Alas, the Universe has repaid its debt to us by giving us men who are fabulous fathers to our own children and that is a wonderful thing. Watching father and son building a new Lego creation, watching father and daughter playing puppets and watching all three of them playing riotous games of hide and seek fills me with joy. It also makes me realise that even though we feel as though we missed out on something that many take for granted, it is Mr African Lion Safari who ultimately dipped out.

  2. Luckily you had such a great Mum who, although she couldn’t be your Dad, did her best so that you didn’t feel a lot more
    pain at his leaving.

  3. Wow – another very personal and very raw post Ms Rose. But, without wanting to take away from what sounds like a pretty shit time in your own Dad experience, may I also point out that the man that you married and the father of your own children is quite possibly, the most Excellent Father In The World, rendering all comparisons with other Father’s (both reasonable and those that were kind of hopeless) moot. You need to be congratulated for choosing well and giving your kids the chance of unconditional love that only the most fortunate in the world get from both their parents. And know that the benchmark for what needs to be done to make a girl with an adventurous spirit feel OK about her war wounds has been set. My wish for her (and my own daughter) is that her father will always be able to make her feel good about herself, by making an idiot out of himself.

  4. You’re right Charlotte, dads are very special indeed & sometimes it’s not until we are a little bit older & parents ourselves that we appreciate their significance (& sacrifices). Here’s to all the good Dads! They make the world a better place for us all!!

  5. Pingback: Goodbye | charlotteroseblog

  6. Pingback: You’re doing such a great job!! « charlotte's musings

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