On Fathers.



In advance of Father’s Day this Sunday, a few members of the PostBourgie crew (also known as The Grape Drink Mafia) got together to discuss our relationships with our dads and how they’ve evolved (or not) over the years. As we chatted, a theme seemed to emerge: the older we get, the more objective we’ve become about our upbringings. Indeed, in cases where our relationships with our dads were fraught growing up, they’ve either improved or, at the very least, our hurt, disappointment or bewilderment has mellowed with age.

After becoming a parent myself, I certainly began to view my own parents in a different light. This seems to be a fairly common practice. I was 30 when my daughter was born. My father was 22 and my mother, 19 when they had me. Parenthood is hard enough when you’re into a career with a couple degrees under my belt. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have been great at it ten years earlier.

In some cases, it’s easier to read the shortcomings of our fathers with greater magnanimity when we’re old enough and removed enough to understand they were doing the best they could at whatever age and under whatever circumstances they started parenting.

Read our team’s reflections and post your own.

Justin Charity: A couple months back, for the first time in nearly four years, I called my dad. We talked. Eventually I consented to him showing up at my house three days later, on a Saturday afternoon. I cooked us lunch, and for four hours we chatted as if it were entirely unremarkable that we hadn’t seen each other for more than a thousand days–as if we’d simply forgotten to pick up the phone.

I spent an hour cooking that lunch: lamb with zataar, pita, some bum-ass feta I’d bought from a farmer’s market, complement sauces, etc etc. Why I felt the need to flex on some Bourdain steez was unclear to me then, but necessary. It was the most gracious thing I could think to do, and that I’ve likely ever done for dude, at least since 1998. Which maybe speaks to my maturity in that meantime more than I’d like to concede.

Then he left. We still text. When my sister’s dog died a few weeks ago, I informed my dad via text. He answered in two parts, the second text being, “Damn I never did like that dog.”

To this day, I don’t know how I feel about all of that. Much less do I know what to feel about Father’s Day as a general occasion, other than wondering whether my dad deserves a Happy one; and if so, whether via voice vs. SMS.

Brokey McPoverty:  [Re: Father’s Day], I’m kind of indifferent about it. I definitely don’t hold it in the same vein of importance as I do Mother’s Day, which probably makes sense since I was raised by my mom, and my dad was only halfway in my life until I was around 22, 23. maybe 24, 25.

I have no ill will toward my dad, though we have a very formal father/daughter relationship, at least on my end. He’s a really, really sweet, proud, and loving father. He gets extra geeked when I show him any kind of lovey-dovey expression (He still brings up an e-card i sent him for his birthday like five years ago, lol). But for me, while I mean my expressions of love, they feel very deliberate and… awkward almost. It’s just a very structured relationship on my end. I feel bad for it. I love him very, very much, but when it comes to parental celebration days, I guess I feel like I have more to thank my mother for than I do my dad.

Alisa: I have a really rocky relationship with my dad. I was very vocal about how he treated my mom when they were splitting and for years after the divorce we barely spoke. I was hurt and disappointed, he was seething and bitter and we exchanged lots of harsh words before lapsing into mutual silence. In my early twenties I would have told you that it would mean little and less to me if he died (not likely true, but it gives you an idea of how angry I was at him). We’ve only really reforged a relationship in the last 5 years wherein I have decided to simply let everything drop and just…meet him where he is. Letting go of wanting to hear “I’m sorry” from him was very hard. Now things like his birthday and Father’s Day are kind of a marvel to me – to be able to call him and tell him I love him and mean it, to remember the Daddy he once was (and me Daddy’s Girl) and accept the flawed man that he is.

My dad and I turned a corner right before his second divorce. It actually started with my mom… not me. When things with his second wife started going south, the person he would call and vent to was my mom. How’s that for irony? Anyway, I started making a bigger effort to call and talk to him from that point. We spend more time together if my brother is also here, but we seem to have his an equilibrium in our relationship that we’re both comfy with for now.

I think Father’s Day is important but it’s always a bittersweet observation for me because of all that.

Melissa (feministtexican): Father’s Day is a mixed bag at our house. I’ll sarcastically ask my siblings if they’ve called daddy yet, and they’ll come back with some equally sarcastic remark (yes, we’re bitter). He was always in our lives; my parents were married 33 or 34 years before they divorced, and by all outward appearances, he was the coolest dad ever. But he’s manipulative and emotionally abusive, and my brother and I have had nothing to do with him for about three years. My sister goes back and forth, but I think she’s also done with him now.

That said, my brother is a hands-on father. We take him and my nephew out to eat and stuff [for Father’s Day].
DopeReads: I never feel bad when I don’t talk to my dad…he lives down the street for me (for the first time in about 22 years) and we see each other maybe two, three times a year.
The years of his detached parenting make it hard for me to make him a consideration when we (my siblings and I) were optional for so long. I love him though, and he’s funny and ignorant as sh*t.
My dad is just hyped when he can come and drink and hang. I’m curious what else folks have done to kind of bridge that awkward, “Hey, you weren’t in my life/You can’t get right” gap that comes with maturing and deepening your relationships with your dad. For me, that moment came when I asked him to run a 5k with me about two years ago. He’s since become this super runner dude, lost a lot of weight, and managed to control his diabetes. Part of the reason I don’t call much is because he will run his mouth about running, and I don’t even like it that much.
I’ll prolly get my 94-year-old grandaddy and my uncle gifts, though.

slb: When I moved to Michigan for four years, I lived in the same city as my father for the first time ever. I grew up a few hundred miles away from him and saw him during some summer and winter breaks. When I first moved to his town, I told him I wanted to get together and talk. We talked. I said I wanted to get to know him better. He said he was glad, but there wasn’t much more to know. I think he’d always felt like we were in a good place, that I knew him well enough and that we were close enough.

That’s pretty much how I approach our relationship now. We’ve always gotten along well. We know we love each other. And during that four years, I spent more concentrated time with him than I had in my life, at 1-2 times a month on average. At this point, I don’t try to get closer than we’ve gotten. We don’t talk much since I’ve moved out of state again. What we have, at this point, is going to have to be enough.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Tell us about your own evolving relationships with your dads.


slb (aka Stacia L. Brown) is a writer, mother, and college instructor in Baltimore, MD. Check her out here: http://stacialbrown.com and here: http://beyondbabymamas.com.