The Photo Gallery: Dads

The Photo Gallery: Week 146

This is my dad and I. I have no idea how old I am, but I would guess under a month. I love this picture of the two of us. I look so tiny. So utterly dependent and so comfortable in my father's arms. I was my dad's third child and my mum's first. For the next two years, it was just the three of us. My mum, dad and me. Then my sister came along, followed by another sister eighteen months later. Six months after this, my dad left us all. We still saw him for weekends and went on holidays with him in the summer. More so as we got older though. I realised when writing this, that by the age my son is now, 4, my mum and dad had already separated.

I used to feel like there must have been something I could have done, or not done, to make my mum and dad stay together. It hit me incredibly hard at the time. I have written previously on how divorce affects children, but certainly, I struggled once my dad remarried. He had a new family, children who were older than us and seemed to need more from him. I always felt like second best. Rubbing salt in the wound was the fact that I even had to share my birthday with my new step-sister. Seriously, that is totally rotten luck. Don't get me wrong, I didn't have a problem with my step-siblings. They didn't choose the situation either.

Unfortunately, my step-mother at the time told my dad things about me which were completely untrue and, even more disappointingly, he believed her. I imagine that he probably still believes some of the things she said about me, which makes me incredibly sad. As a result, I am not sure he actually knows who I really am. So much of my past has been twisted, embellished, or simply made up.

When they split up, I was relieved to finally have my dad back, to be able to tell him things (and for them to be believed), spend time together, and generally actually get on properly. We began to spend more time together and work on our first family house. He was a great help to us.

We did used to have some wonderful holidays with my dad as a child. Proper adventure holidays with camping, laughter and fun. These holidays were away from my step-mother though and he always seemed happier and more relaxed when she wasn't around. Certainly, it was easier for him to concentrate on us and spend really good quality time with us as children. He also used to read the most amazing bedtime stories, thrilling and exiting and always starting off from where he ended the time before, even if that had been two weeks ago. Once my half-sister was born, I used to really enjoy going to his house because he used to feed us smiley faces, chips and beans! We never had those before.

This probably sounds a little melancholy or over-dramatic, but I still sometimes resent that there are so many of us children. As the eldest child in his second of four marriages, I was never going to be the one who gave him his first grandchild, or the one who got married first. All the things that most first children get to do. I guess I think I have always felt like second best, like nothing I do will ever be as good as the other children. Like there will always be one of his children doing better, being better, looking better.  This is my problem. Nothing which has ever been insinuated by anyone else. Purely what my brain occasionally thinks up.

Last summer my dad had a heart attack and I realised he wasn't invincible. This was a shock to me. Luckily he had a triple bypass a few weeks later and made a very speedy recovery. We went through a bit of a family shift after this, but seem to be getting back on track now. I don't blame my dad for leaving us when we were little. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because he and my mum have always got on. They have always been friends and she has shown immense courage and forgiveness in doing so. I have written before about how she coped with divorce and how it doesn't have to be an awful thing for children.

When he remarried a while ago, he reached a new happy place. It is nice to see him happy, comfortable and generally settled. We now have a good relationship. I know that I can call him whenever I need him and he will help. If anything goes wrong, he is the first person I am on the phone to. He can fixed a broken toilet from over 200 miles away, which is no mean feat! I often ask inane questions about decorating and he always has the right answer. He helps us out with our house so much.

I didn't write this post with the intention of making my dad seem like a horrible person. He really isn't. He is loving, caring, fun, charismatic, charming, and a brilliant dad. I love him so much, and always will. He just wasn't able to be as big a part of my childhood as I would have liked.

To see what others have come up with for this week's theme, click on the image below.