Daddy issues: part one
Updated: Aug 11, 2019
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the “right way” to raise a child. I realise that all parents make mistakes. Every son or daughter can probably list a few things that they experienced from their parents that they vow never to repeat with their own kids. But, when it comes down to it, I feel like there are very few things that a normal, loving parent can do to completely ruin their relationship with their children.
Well, I’ve decided that my dad has managed to do exactly that.
I grew up in a very stable and normal suburban household with my mum, her partner and my dogs. I didn’t have a relationship with my biological father at all, because my mum and he had separated when I was a baby and then he had basically disappeared. In all honesty, thoughts of my father and his side of the family rarely crossed my mind when I was growing up. I was totally happy and loved my mum and the family I had around me. I never felt that I missed out on anything, I was never lonely and I felt (and still do) that I have the best people around me already.
In 2014, around the time I was 26, when I was recently married, my curiosity to know my father had been growing. I did my usual Facebook stalking to no avail, and then tried to Google him, but even with my outstanding investigative skills, nothing turned up. One morning I was listening to Kyle and Jackie O on the radio and I heard their resident Private Investigator, David, from Lipstick Investigations, come on. The segment detailed David tracking down people and information for listeners, whose reunions were then played on air. I emailed the radio station straight away. Even though I wasn’t super keen to be on air, my curiosity to find out about my dad outweighed anything else.
A producer from the radio station contacted me soon after, saying they had passed my details on to David and he’d be in touch. When I heard from David I gave him all the information I knew about my dad, which was very little. Then I waited.
It felt like I was waiting forever, but in actual fact, it was only about ten days. David emailed me to say that the radio station wasn’t running the segment anymore so my story wouldn’t be going to air…. But he had already found my dad who was living in Sydney and was looking forward to hearing from me! I couldn’t believe it, I was so excited that my husband and I went out to celebrate that night. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to finally speak to my dad.
The next day, after work, I sat in my car outside my house and nervously dialled my dad’s mobile number. When he answered I just said, “Hi”, and immediately he knew who it was on the other end. I took that as a good sign. He sounded pretty normal and was easy to talk to. I was so happy. We ended up speaking for almost an hour - there was so much to catch up on! By the end of the call we had arranged to have lunch in a few weeks time. There were still so many unanswered questions flying around in my brain.
My mum hadn’t spoken much about my dad when I was a kid. I rarely asked her anything and when I did, I always felt like it made her a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t until I was an adult that she opened up to me about him and their relationship. She had met him at only 18 years old. He was 23. Together, they moved up to the Gold Coast from Sydney. My mum described my dad as handsome, intelligent and funny. He also had a wicked temper on him. My mum has alluded to the fact that he wasn’t always great to her, physically, and eventually he got mixed up with a new crowd, started using drugs and began taking off and disappearing for days on end. At 21, when my mum found out she was pregnant, she put the hard word on him to sort himself out, which I think he did, at least for a little while. But it wasn’t long after I was born that he fell off the wagon again, and my mum packed up and moved with me back to Sydney. Eventually my dad just stopped calling and writing. Years later, my mum heard that he had gone to prison, hence the loss of contact.
That’s why I was so apprehensive about meeting him. Understandable, right? I’d never even come into contact with someone who’d seen the inside of a prison, let alone had been sentenced. But that part is a story for another day and another post.