To All The Dads Out There — I Hate You, With Love


I try not to be a jealous person in life, although I admittedly don’t always succeed. It’s hard for me to look at someone who I see as an equal or, yes, I’ll say it, someone whom I think I am better than, but who has more (salary, awards, love, etc.) than I do and not be overcome with envy.

Jealousy is not a good look on anyone, which is why I try to wash it off as soon as possible whenever I feel it start to stick to my body like sweat on a hot summer day. But there is one category of people that I have arguably the most difficult time hiding my envy with: dads.

Throughout life you’re bound to run into people who will say they were “born” to do or be something. I feel that I was born to be a writer. I jotted down notes on scrap paper since I could scribble, and I never saw myself doing anything else as a profession.

I also feel that I was born to be a dad, which is why I’m so envious of every lucky son of a gun who gets to take his son to a baseball game, his little girl to a father-daughter dance, or who gets to be such an important role model in a child’s life.

It’s been nearly four years since my ex-girlfriend and her daughter moved away. I haven’t written much about either of them in the last year, nor do I ever really discuss them in conversation. While I think about the little girl every single day, it’s become easier to accept that she’s no longer in my life, I’m no longer in her life, and the reality that neither are likely to ever change.

It’s been nearly impossible this weekend, and even more so on Father’s Day.

Growing up as a product of divorce, I never thought a stepparent could love another’s child(ren) the same as their own. My friends at the time never squandered an opportunity to remind me of that after the move, noting that as much as I loved the little girl, it would pale in comparison to the day I have my own.

I called bullshit on it then, and I call bullshit on it now. In the time that’s passed since they moved, I’ve visited the little girl — who remembered me a year later — and I’ve seen my mother remarry to an incredible man and father of two girls about the same age as me and my brother.

The little girl does not recognize me in pictures anymore, according to her mother, and every day away from her produces an additional nudge from my subconscious to push her out of my memory for good. I can’t do it. Whether it’s out of love, stubbornness, or a combination of both, she will never be away from my thoughts.

My stepfather has the love of my mother, his daughters, and (I assume) my brother and I; I can only speak for myself. I have no idea if he loves us as much as his daughters, nor would I expect or ask him to if he didn’t, but I know that he does love us even though we are another man’s children.

The only feeling stronger than the jealousy I have towards dads on Father’s Day is the anger I have towards the ignorant people who decree that men who love or raise another man’s child are — through some sort of twisted logic — lesser men and human beings than the guy who reproduced and subsequently abandoned the child. (Note: This example only refers to men who are no longer in the child’s life.)

Through the years, it can be easy to take fatherhood for granted, just as we take everything for granted — our significant others; our ability to walk, talk, and see without limitations; everyday we’re alive on this earth — but I hope this article serves as a reminder to all the dads out there to show just how lucky they are to have the opportunity to impact a child’s life for the better.

So to all the dads out there, I say, “Happy Father’s Day,” and that I hate you all, but only because I envy you.