It means a lot to us at OnlyMums and OnlyDads to utilise this blog for real-life stories about family life. Here, @KellyCairns offers us her thoughts on meeting her Dad again after years of being apart.
We are grateful to Kelly – this is a brave piece of writing. The mixed emotions of needing to protect herself from further hurt while balancing that with the desire to reconnect with an absent parent comes over very clearly. But, I’ll say no more and pass you over to Kelly…
…I was 12 when mum and dad separated. Dad was always a serial cheat, and mum was the loyal one counting the pennies and holding the home together. Mum and dad were together from the age of 16 so I guess they grew apart after 13 years of marriage and two kids.
I was always a daddy’s girl, my brother who was 8 at the time was really a bit too young to understand what was going on, but I was devastated that both parents were no longer together, and that year I found out there was no father Christmas when I had to wrap my own presents about 11pm on Christmas eve.
I saw my father every weekend from Friday through until Sunday for about 2 years.
Mum got a boyfriend, and my father started sneaking into my bedroom to steal my diary and helped himself to a midnight read into my thoughts when I stayed over. I guess the past caught up with him and he couldn’t deal with the fact that my mum was moving on.
Don’t get me wrong, my dad was (and is) a lovely, caring man, but I guess at some point in his life we stopped becoming his priority.
He moved on eventually and got himself a girlfriend. Then the visits started to go a bit wrong. He would stop picking us up on a Friday with the ‘my car is in the garage’ excuse, pick us up on a Saturday 10am and drop us back off by 4pm.
Then, they got worse, he would promise to pick us up, and he never turned up.. not even a phone call. We waited each weekend for him to turn up, but he didn’t. Sometimes he did, but most often than not he didn’t. To this day, I don’t know why. I suspect it’s the girlfriend, but he was to blame too.
At the age of 16 I got fed up of waiting around for my dad so I moved on with my life. My teenage years were a disaster, I rebelled and starting skipping school, had boyfriends and didn’t turn up for my GCSEs. My father didn’t care, so why should I? I thought.
By the time I left school I realised what a fool I had been and only I was hurting, so I bucked my ideas up and started thinking that I needed to do things for ME, to show my dad what he was missing, and what I’ve achieved without his support. I didn’t need it (however much I wanted it). I did see my dad occasionally, but I remember the last time I saw him was the day Lady Diana died. He took us to the pub and we sat and watched the news all day before he took us home.
I did well at college, got myself a job and a mortgage by the age of 20.
Then, came my 21st birthday, my brother’s birthday is 2 weeks before mine so my mum organised a surprise joint birthday party. She asked us to meet her up the local club for a drink before going for a meal, yeah right! I nearly jumped of my skin when everyone shouted at us ‘SURPRISE’ what a surprise I got when I saw my dad sat there on his own in the corner drinking a pint. My mum invited him. I felt awkward. The last time I saw him was in 1997 – this is 2001. I said “hi”, we exchanged numbers and that was that.
A few days later he phoned and asked if he could have a lift to work, we worked in the same city, so of course I couldn’t, and didn’t want to say no.
I think we started our relationship again for about 3 months or so. I was delighted, I loved my father and so wanted to reignite the bond between us, despite what had happened. I forgave him.
Then, one day, like when I was younger, he didn’t turn up. It turns out he had gone back to his previous girlfriend. I felt like he was using me. So I turned bitter and decided not to see him again.
I think about 3 years ago, my brother started to see my father, and they’re now really close, and even work together, and my brother has always tried to build the bridges between us, but I just couldn’t trust him. I didn’t want him to hurt me and let me down again, most importantly I didn’t want him to hurt my boys the same way he had hurt me.
I denied him access to my wedding, and even sent him a really awful letter, which of course I regret whole heartedly. But I was bitter inside. he had nothing to do with my children (4 and 6).
Then in 2008 my father in law passed away, we were very close, he was like a dad to me, and then just March 2011 my grandfather passed away, again very close to me. I started to think about my children, and that they had another grandfather who they knew nothing of, in fact, didn’t even know he existed.
So I decided to meet. Well actually, we’ve been texting each other for about 6 months, and then decided to meet just last week. My husband and I with the 2 boys, went along to his house. We eat pizza, drank wine, and the boys played in the garden. It was weird, but I enjoyed it! Despite the hurt, the heartache, it felt good to be with my dad again.
Of course, I will need answers, eventually, but for now, I’m enjoying finding out about each other, and building the connection.
We’ve arranged for him to come and stay for the weekend at the end of October, and I’m so excited (yet nervous) about it.
I still have thoughts about whether or not he will let us down, but I’m old enough and tough enough to ask the questions now, and not waste another 10 years being stubborn.