I’m usually not to negative on this here blog, but today I needed to get something off my chest. To be real with the world. To make a confession:
I don’t know how to be a good father.
For that reason, and many others today sucks. Celebrating fatherhood sucks.
As most problems we adults experience within ourselves: this problem has roots in my childhood.
As a child I was physically and emotionally abused by my father. So starting right there you see why I have baggage about this day. Why the days and weeks leading up to today it’s weighed on my mind about what it means to be a father, and about what my father did to me.
However that’s not the end of the story. As if abuse wasn’t enough! When I was 21 years old my parents separated. A divorce was imminent. But the kids were moved out, so a divorce would be a okay. One day my mom called me to come over because my dad had something to tell me. Upon arrival, I found it odd that my parents’ pastor, my moms closest sister and my dads closest sister were there. But I forged ahead thinking this was when he’d tell me they were divorcing, which at this point in my life I felt would be a blessing. I’d been out of the house for 3 years and the abuse had stopped. But visiting home was still no fun.
What he told me changed everything. He told me (in very different words because he had a difficult time communicating) that he was not my biological father, he couldn’t have kids (he was sterile) and so my sister and I were half siblings and our bio dads were sperm bank donors.
We were kids of very early AID, aka Artificial Insemination from a Donor. This was uncommon at the time, the first AID baby was born in 1953. The first sperm bank opened in 1970, and the first baby born from IVF was born the same year as my sister, 1978.
However, no one knew. My mom hid how she became pregnant both times. It’s actually a very simple thing to hide when you think about it. A whole lot easier to hide than adoption. They hid the truth because my dad had self-esteem issues as well as culturally it was not accepted at the time.
So it’s Fathers Day today.
Should I send a “Happy Father’s Day” card to a sperm bank? Or how about a donor?
So, would you try and research down your biological records? Yup, I’ve tried. The Doctor is no longer in practice, and my parents destroyed all records they had. Who knows what sperm bank I came from.
But the story doesn’t end there, after my parents divorced my “dad” ended up on the streets. He had a bit of a mental breakdown, and his manic depression got the better of him. He died of a heart attack a few years later while in an office applying for federal assistance of some sort.
And just over a year ago my Mom got married to a man I knew and respected my whole life. So now in my 30’s I’m attempting to call him dad, to send him father’s day greetings and well there’s just a whole lot of baggage in my life that he doesn’t deserve but it’s extremely hard for me to overcome.
Let’s throw in the fact that I’ve been married 10 years, which brings a father-in-law into the picture. He’s a good man, but not the right man to fill the hole left by not having my father around for my life.
This year is different than past Father’s Days. This year I’m in therapy specifically focused on overcoming childhood abuse, and addressing it and finally healing from it. Which is part of why I’m writing this. This is part of my journey through Father’s Day.
So in short this day I need to celebrate four fathers,
- My bio-dad whom I’ve never met, and don’t know anything about but he’s given me half of everything I am today.
- John Kortman (it hurts to call him dad) who abused me and gave me most of my baggage I carry with me, he lied to me/everyone.
- My father-in-law who tries, but is far from being able to be my father. (Most people know similar feelings about their “in-laws”)
- My Mom’s new husband, whom I now try to call dad. It’s not his fault, he’s a great guy, the role of ‘dad’ in my life is filled with emotional landmines.
Being a Dad
But what about me? I too am a Father. I have 4 wonderful kids who other than out first injury/ER visit in 7 years (it was just this past week) have been extremely healthy, really obedient, and they make me laugh until it hurts.
Yet I’m terrified. I am causing them baggage. Do I abuse them? No. Am I more harsh on them then I want to be? Yes. Do I want to set them up on a solid footing that I never had? Yes, do I feel like I’m doing that? No. What’s there in me to celebrate as a father? What can I claim that I’ve done right?
I’ve got so much negativity and poor training around being a father that I know every interaction with my kids is a potential for extreme failure. And that terrifies me.
And then there’s the family name, due to some unique situations there are very few male Kortman cousins to carry on the name, at a Kortman reunion there are very few actual Kortmans… which means that my kids will start a new Kortman line, since they are not biologically Kortmans at all. Yet they will forever carry that name. (of our 4 kids, 3 are boys and probably will carry the Kortman name until their death).
So when my kids give me their homemade cards today, when they celebrate me as a dad, what does that mean? I’ve celebrated one man as my dad for the first 21 years of my life, now I celebrate four men as my dad… and celebrate is a messed up term when I use it like that. So what are my kids celebrating today?
We all have baggage, and we’re all giving our kids baggage, this side of heaven it seems there are no baggage-free people. My story is unique, but not more special than yours. This is just why Father’s day sucks for me.