The Day I Decided That Failing At Fatherhood Was Not An Option

I made my mind up a long time ago that I would be a much better dad than the one I came to know. Seriously I am almost 40 years old and my dad and I have never had a conversation of any kind. It’s so awkward when we are in the same room together that he will get up and leave or I will find a reason to leave.

It’s kind of difficult because I am not his only child and he seems to have a great relationship with his other kids. My older brother and him laugh and play and it’s something that I guess I will never truly understand.

It’s funny how it skipped a generation because his dad played the role of my dad or at least was the central father figure in my life while I was growing up. One of the reasons I loved my grandfather so much was because in my eyes he was more like my dad than my actual dad.

Usually for men it’s a vicious cycle of neglect that leads men to disconnect with the children in their lives. My grandfather on the other hand was none of the above. He stood by his kids. He watched them all grow up. He loved them. He gave all he could to them from stories, to history, to financial stability for as long as he lived.

There are certain moments in your life that you have to ask yourself why did it happen to me? I know my mother is a lot to deal with. But was the bitterness so bad that you didn’t have any time for the son that you gave life too? The disconnect was so bad that I thought that my father was my uncle because that’s what everyone else called him and I didn’t know him well enough to make the distinction.

You know things are bad when you haven’t spent one night in the same house as your father in your entire life. I have never stepped foot in his house nor been in the same vehicle with him during my entire life. Not once did he offer to pick me up or take me to anything. His family did their best to fill in. I love my aunts and uncles for all that they did for me to smooth things out. They may have thought I didn’t notice but I did and I will always love them for it.

Growing up I was good at just about everything. I graduated second in my class. I was the star of the football, baseball, and track teams. I played on all-star basketball teams and by the time I was fifteen I was DJ’ing adult parties. Not one time did I ever see or hear my dad in attendance for any of that. Not one event.

Even when I went to college I expected to hear at least something from him. Not one peep. I broke every single record that my school had for me to break at my position while I was in college. I remember playing in the games and my uncle would make appearances with my sister and everyone thought that he was my father. On graduation day I would see kids getting big hugs from their dads. It was funny because a lot of them had dad’s and step dad’s both in attendance and on that day they were all happy for their child.

After college the disappointment went away but I vowed never to be that way. I am a surrogate father to a lot of kids but when I finally got one of my own, I knew that I wasn’t going to be a dead beat dad. If she is doing something that she wants to be proud of, I am going to be there. Every day I put aside time for her regardless of how tired I am. We play outside, we play inside. I read the same boring book six to seven times a night to her because it means something to her.

When I walk in the door and she comes running to me, I think about all the times that I didn’t get to do it to my dad so the hug gets bigger and bigger.

Now that I am older, I have forgiven a lot of the negligence but our relationship is still the same. It’s awkward. I guess deep down we both have our reasons but for some reason we will never know what we have in common besides me bearing his name.


12 thoughts on “The Day I Decided That Failing At Fatherhood Was Not An Option

  1. Kenny September 13, 2012 / 12:01 pm

    Great recollection, Joe. It took a lot of courage to write this. I’m speechless; I’ll definitely do my part to share this post with others.

    • Joe Simmons September 13, 2012 / 12:03 pm

      Yeah man it was tough putting this one down on paper bro.. I appreciate it.

  2. Inquisitive Mind September 13, 2012 / 12:17 pm

    Joe, all I can say is that I almost teared up here. I pray that one day the two of you work out a relationship, because that is her grandfather. But as you know, all of the things that happen in our life shape us and you have become a better man for it. There is some solace in knowing what you don’t want to be like, while striving for what you do want to be like. Continue being the best father you can be and that’s the reward that she’ll benefit from. Blessings out to you and yours.

    • Joe Simmons September 13, 2012 / 2:31 pm

      Yeah man one step at a time every day.. I am still a work in progress with him but with her it is easy… She gets 100%

  3. Earnest Christian September 13, 2012 / 12:24 pm

    Touching story Joe and an eye opener for future fathers like myself. I appreciate you opening up yourself like this. Im sure it wasn’t easy to say this especially on a public forum but if you can change even one person’s perspective on being a better father through this writing than you’ve already succeeded.

    Once again great post!

    • Joe Simmons September 13, 2012 / 2:31 pm

      Thanks man.. I appreciate your support as always.

  4. The Suburban Thug September 13, 2012 / 2:40 pm

    Man. That’s a tough way to grow up, but salute to you for wanting to be the opposite of what you saw growing up. I got two daughters myself, one of whom doesn’t live with me. Being present for them is what’s important. Show them the love, and make sure they know its there. Stay on the path you’re on bruh; it’s the right way to go.

    • Joe Simmons September 13, 2012 / 2:58 pm

      Thanks man.. I enjoyed your blog by the way … Good stuff.

  5. "G$" September 13, 2012 / 3:57 pm

    Much respect for sharing such a personal revelation… There still may be a chance for reconciliation but it’ll require both of you to do so… It’s never too late… My Dad and best friend has been gone 11 years, and I can’t tell you how much I still miss him… Even in my adult life… Maybe more so… Maybe things will change… Hopefully!!…

    • Joe Simmons September 13, 2012 / 9:04 pm

      Thanks man. Let’s hope for the best.

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