When my husband and I first got together, I never knew what a dad did.

I knew mother’s worked and fed their children, cooked, cleaned and loved their children but what exactly did fathers do?

My biological father, the only one I knew died a few years back and I mourned his death.
I mourned what should have been, what could have been and what was!

I believe I received my first hiding from my father when I was 7 months old. I recall at 19 years old, he told me the story of how I cried non stop and how he picked me up and whacked me. At my shocked expression, he proudly told me how I stopped crying after that!

I often wondered what could possibly go through your mind that you’d hit a baby then justify that beating by saying at least you didn’t cry anymore!

I recall during my childhood that my siblings and I received several beatings from him. We would get beaten if he didn’t go to work cause we were too loud. We would get beaten if he went to work cause then he’d return in a “bad mood!”

I don’t remember him ever hugging us but I do recall the anger, the shouting, the sarcasm and the “hidings”

I remember praying and walking home very slowly just to finish the prayer in which I would beg that my dad not be home!
Some of my friends dads would be walking home while we played in the street and I would stop and stare because they ran towards their fathers for hugs and kisses.

We would be shouted at if there was no food or if the house (if you could call one room that),was untidy. He would order his tea in this big, booming voice and we would be fighting with each other who got to make the tea just in case it wasn’t how he liked it!

My mom divorced my dad when I was around 7 years old and all I recall were my siblings and I celebrating the fact that we would be “free” to talk, to play, to walk around without fear of being hurt!

I used to long for the type of father I would see on tv or read about in books. A father that laughed or hugged their children and one that used to find joy in just being with them.

Years later when my daughter was about 3 years old, I recall having an argument with my husband because I was struggling to put my daughter to sleep and he offered and I politely declined and suddenly he looked all sad and said:”You don’t need me so I don’t know what I’m doing here! You control everything, you bath her, love her, play with her, teach her and every time I try do something you tell her to come to you!”
I’m not her dad, I’m just helping with the bills!”

My first reaction to his outburst was defensive but sitting down I realized that he was right. I never even went to the store without my daughter and I would have an argument with him every time he tried to teach her or maybe became a bit impatient with her.

Truths, hard truths aren’t easy to stare at but I loved him enough to want to listen and to try understand what he was saying. I cried so much that weekend.
We dropped my daughter at my moms and spent the entire weekend just talking and trying to fix what was wrong and mostly for me to realize that I didn’t have to do everything by myself, that I could just let go of some of that iron clad control and allow them to form their own bond without me interfering.

I wish I could say that it all fell magically into place after that weekend but it didn’t.
It took hard work for me not to jump whenever my daughter was hurt or needing something or simply wanting to play.

I didn’t know what dad’s did, I never had that.

All I was subjected to was the painful, neglectful side of fatherhood. The tired dad, the moody dad, the abusive dad, the angry dad was the norm for me and the fact that my daughter wanted to spend time with her dad was shocking and yes, a part of me wanted her all to myself but thank goodness that I was able to face the ugly truth that I had no clue what role fathers have in their children’s lives.

My daughter will be 28 this year and I’m happy to report that she is a wonderful, compassionate, beautiful person who has a very close relationship with her dad, without it ever having taken anything away from mine and her relationship. I love the fact that she wants to spend time with me or him separately and together. I love the bonds we have and yes, I’m proud that the curse has been broken.

You don’t know what “normal” is when “normal” is what you have never experienced!