So today I had a phone conversation with my paternal Grandmother (who I only speak to maybe once every 4 months) and it very nearly became an argument. Which also brought up a whole host of other feelings for me.
For context, I have next to no contact with my biological fathers family, and no contact at all with him, completely through their own choice. They all have ways to contact me, and I have reached out to various members of the family over the years and have received very little back. Honestly, for the most part I’m ok with that. Sure it makes me sad if I really think about it, but it’s not something I really dwell too much on anymore so in the last few years it’s just stopped bothering me very much.
However, with the Brexit situation I’m currently attempting to claim on my birthright Irish citizenship, just in case it all goes to shit really. This unfortunately means I need several documents from my Gran and my biological father.
My parents split up when I was very young, about 18 months – 2 years old I believe. My bio father was a heroin user and this amongst other reasons was my mum decided she couldn’t stay and raise a child with him, so we moved out. I don’t remember any witnessesing any bitterness between them, and my mum never bad mouthed him to me when I was a kid (I didn’t even know about the drugs until I was in my late teens) but I do remember being a small child and my mum being upset at him constantly letting me down. I have very few memories of him actually, I have far more memories of times he should have been there but wasn’t. I remember staying at his house multiple times as a primary school age kid, but my memories in that house are of playing with my Gran, my cousin, my bio dad’s wife or by myself catching frogs and snails in the garden. I have none of him at all. I remember the receptionists at my school having to call my mum after all the other kids had gone home and I was sat alone with my overnight bag in the library area, because he had forgotten to collect me from school the one weekend I was supposed to be staying with him. I remember being 7 and really excited to tell him about my new brother after my mum had a baby with the Dad who actually raised me. I don’t remember seeing him again after Daniel was born though, so I don’t know if I got to tell him how happy I was to be a big sister.
The next time technically heard from my dad was when I was 13. My Gran had come up to stay with my family for a week, as we hadn’t really seen eachother since my parents decided to move out of London, and I used to see my Gran all the time when I was little. When she went back home, I guess she gave my bio dad a bit of a nugde to contact me. So a little while later I recieved a box of presents and a letter. At the time I was very excited, because hey my father had sent me all this stuff and had hand written a letter, that means he must care about me right? It took about a year for me to actually really look at it properly. At 13, I was in my skater/emo phase. All I wanted in life was to be Avril Lavigne, and all I was wearing was camo, checkers and black. This box was full of pink, floral stationery, fake jewellery and a lavinder filled teddy bear that gave me migraines for a month. He absolutely didn’t buy these items himself, he wasn’t even interested in finding out the kind of person I was before sending a box of things. The address label was in his wife’s handwriting. To top it off, he never responded to the thank you letter I sent him.
He also has two other children now, who are much younger than I am, and I only found out about the eldest one because my Gran called my mum and mentioned him in passing, assuming that he would have contacted me to tell me. I found out about my sister via my aunts Facebook. I’ve met my paternal siblings once, when I was 19, and this leads up to the last time my biological father let me down. I went to visit my aunt, and she arranged (with mine and my mums permission) for him to be there with his wife and kids. Honestly I thought it was a great day. I got to meet my biological father properly as an adult, I was surrounded by family who actually look like me, I met two little siblings I’d never met before- and I’d always wanted a sister- and I was actually really happy. I gave his wife my number and we arranged to meet in London for my 20th birthday, as I was going to be down there anyway and that was that. Fast forward to the day before my birthday, I get a text saying that he unexpectedly had to work so couldn’t meet me. And that was that.
So bringing it back to today. I’m 26 years old now, turning 27 this year. All I’ve known from my biological father is disappointment. And my Gran is telling me that it’s just because that’s the way men are, they don’t do anything unless they have a woman pushing them to. And that he did try but my mum was mean to him on the phone when I was little.
And all I can think is all the single dads I know who either have custody of their kids, or are fighting every day to see them. Or how even if my mum was the reason not to see me, I’ve not lived with my mum for about 6 years now, have had a mobile phone since I was 12, have had Facebook since 16 (with his sister, nephews and niece as friends) and have had my own stable address for over a year now. And he had my number when I was 19. He could have contacted me so many ways over the years. He’s been off of drugs for all of my younger siblings lives (so I hear) so I just don’t understand.
But mostly I’m really really upset that after so many years of genuinely not giving a shit, I now very much do again. I really just feel like that dumb little kid waiting by the door for her dad to come pick her up, until mum eventually comes and distracts her with biscuits and videogames because he just isn’t coming.