I’m not a parent, nor do I ever want children. However, I’m great with kids and know how to take care of them. I also know that there are just certain things that you shouldn’t say or do to a child.
I lived with my mom for the first three years of my life (my dad was in college at the time in the opposite end of the state). After my dad graduated my parents entered a custody battle. My mom lost and I was forced to start living with my dad and visited my mom on the weekends. Just to be perfectly clear, my dad didn’t fight for custody because he wanted to. He did it because he felt that he had to. Most of childhood was actually spent with my grandparents.
I get that being a new single parent isn’t easy. I understand that fully. But after the first 8 years, it probably shouldn’t take you an hour to remember to pick up your kid from school. If I had a penny for all of the times that I was forgotten, I’d have a nice stack of cash. My dad broke a lot of promises when I was growing up to the point that even now, I never take anything he says at face value.
I love both of my parents, I really do. But when I was in high school, I reached a point where their opinions and expectations no longer meant anything to me.
My dad has pretty much spent the majority of my life telling me how much of a disappointment I am.
Since birth actually……. That’s not an exaggeration.
My dad wanted his first born to be a son and got me instead (strike one). Instead of accepting it, he dressed me in clothes that were mad for little boys and the sizes were always wrong. After a year or so he realized that it wouldn’t change anything and stopped.
My dad was always much harder on me than he was on my brothers. Surely, part of it was because he just didn’t know what the hell he was doing as a parent. But that’s not my fault. His lack of preparation shouldn’t have been taken out on me. And it’s not like I was a bad kid. I loved school, reading, and always got good grades. The second that I slipped up even a little, he would freak out on me. When I was in high school I was the only person my year taking all available AP courses. I was literally ahead of everyone else. I was usually okay at math, I just didn’t always understand it. Still, he forced me to skip the honors course for calculus and go straight to AP. I struggled with the class. I stayed after school with my teacher when I could and eventually ended up with a B…..he complained about it and said that I should’ve done better. Not that he was any help since he knew none of the things that we were studying. It also didn’t matter to him that my junior year I was ranked 3rd in my class overall and would have been valedictorian the following year. When he found out my rank, he couldn’t even hide how surprised he was. And instead of letting me become valedictorian (which is something that he knew I wanted) I was forced to switch schools my senior year. The funny thing is, that was what he wanted right? A kid who was the perfect student? Well there I was on the road to being the top of my class and that wasn’t even good enough. I was always supposed to get As no matter what. No surprise that the rules changed for my brother. He got his report card a few weeks ago (he’s currently in 10th grade) and all he had to say was, “Did you get any D’s? (No) Good. I’m proud of you”
That was all it took for my brother to make him proud. I couldn’t get so much as a B but my brother could get straight Cs and it’s all fine?
There was also a huge lack of support for my career choices. When I was 12 I decided that I wanted to go to culinary school. I was obsessed with Food Network and loved trying out new things. I kept tons of notebooks full of recipes that I wanted to try. My dad (surprise) kept trying to push me in a different direction. Basically any other direction. Becoming a chef wasn’t good enough for him. A few years later, my little brother also started showing an interest in cooking. What did my dad do? He supported him 100%. He would buy him cookbooks, take him grocery shopping with him and then make a huge deal out of the meals he attempted to cook. So the exact opposite of what he did with me. No surprise really but afterwards I dropped the culinary dream.
There is one day that I will never forget for the rest of my life. We (dad, stepmom, and two youngest brothers) were driving home from a lacrosse game. I had played well that day and we won. I had recently gotten a guitar and was teaching myself how to play it. My dad was listening to something on the radio that caused him to ask if I could play by ear and I said no. (Keep in mind that my dad can’t sing, dance and has never played an instrument in his life). Because I said no his response was, “Great. No talent. No athlete. Can’t wait to see what your brothers are not going to do.”
I was crushed.
What pissed me off most about this is that I was actually a really good athlete. I excelled in tennis, I was the top scorer on my basketball team and (again) if I hadn’t switched schools, I would have been lacrosse captain. I was also in both concert choir – which anyone could join, and chorale – which you had to be chosen for. But none of that mattered. I was just a talentless, non athletic kid. As soon as we got home, I packed a bag and went to stay with my aunt for a week.
It was the year that I turned 16 that I finally learned not to give a fuck anymore. My birthday was in January and my dad’s big idea was to buy me 5 cakes. Each of them with something that represented something that I liked. Ironically, half of those were things that he didn’t even support: A microphone, sheet music, a lacrosse stick, a book, and a chef’s jacket. My aunt cooked dinner for me and that was basically it. It was just my family and my best friend. Since I had nothing better to do, I spent the night at my best friend’s house. According to my dad, we didn’t really do much because he “doesn’t do birthdays.” Those were his words.
That same year, in May, my brother turned 10. My dad drove 7 hours to pick him up just for the weekend and threw him a huge party. He cooked a huge meal, there was a guest list and everything…..but he “didn’t do birthdays” right? That was the day I realized that this was always how it was going to be. I would always be put on the back burner in relation to my siblings – who are all boys. Especially when it came to the oldest of the boys because he’s the first born son.
That’s when I accepted the fact that my dad never wanted a daughter.
Because my dad was in school when I was born he missed the first few years of my life. He and my stepdad have been in my life for the same amount of time. If I ever needed anything, I would go to my stepdad first. He’s more of a father figure to me than my biological dad is.
There’s more to this story but I think you get the point. The bottom line is the things that I’ve listed here are the things that I will remember for the rest of my life no matter what else happens.When I actually needed him in my life he treated me like shit and now that I don’t need him it’s like he’s trying to make up for lost time. Like he’s trying to tear down that wall that’s in between us but I can’t. More importantly, I’m not so sure that I want to.