I never met my father. Not consciously, at least – I was two when he passed away.
In the way that children are oblivious, I don’t think it really registered in my brain that my mom was a “single mom” until the 4th grade. Not until some damn kid or teacher had to point it out and define it.
Since I never met him, I used to fantasize about the existence and whereabouts of my father. Maybe he was a secret agent and in order to protect the entire family, he had to cut off contact forever. Or maybe he was in prison for murdering someone and out of shame, my mother just told me and my sisters he’s dead. Etcetera.
Outside of those fantasies, however, I always tried to think of it as lucky thing that I have no memories of my father, compared to my older sisters. This was based on the assumption that what I wasn’t exposed to, I could not miss.
Decades later, I’m back on the fence about that notion. I’ve come to realize that growing up without a father has shaped me in more ways than I expected.
I didn’t just grow up with any single mother. My mother is, for a lack of better terms, super strong. She’s been through some ridiculous shit. I’ve also seen the effects of having to stay strong for so long. Everyone meets their breaking points sometime. Seeing all that she’s been through had made a mark on how I view parenting, motherhood and women.
In relationships, I always preferred independent women who can take care of themselves. And I often expected my girlfriends to want to work through relationship issues as much as I did. I wouldn’t blame my mom for my Mr. Fix-It mentality. But I wouldn’t correct you if you said I have some mommy issues.
Then, there are relationships with men. I don’t know how to deal with normal father figures. I have a mental block about opening up to older men. Even with my friends’ dads, I would always leave space in between us, which I think is unbeknownst to them. I didn’t want to be too vulnerable around them. As if I didn’t want their charity.
My biggest fear isn’t dying. My biggest fear is getting married, having kids, then dying on them.
I guess it’s no coincidence that I don’t want to repeat pains of my youth in my own family someday. My fears are a direct function of watching my mother raise my sisters and I. Seeing her struggles, frustrations and loneliness. That’s why you might find love letters to my mother littered in corners of this website.
On the other hand, these fears inform me of my greatest desires. To marry the woman of my dreams, be an amazing husband and most of all, be a great dad. I want to be there for my children, tend to them and watch them grow up. I didn’t have that for myself and I think fatherhood is a powerful thing to give. So there, I guess my assumption was wrong – I do miss having a dad.
I didn’t have any male role models growing up, much less Asian ones. My mother was enough. If it was enough for Obama and Clinton (and a list of other celebrities), then I guess it’s enough for me.
To be honest I think that’s exactly why you’re reading this today. Personal development became my father. I looked to self-help for the advice, guidance, and direction to fill the void of growing up without a father.
In turn, through my experiences and learnings, I hope to provide the same help to others.
You reading this blog right now makes me feel like I’m making some kind of impact in this world. I didn’t say it wasn’t selfish :)
As of 2012, 1 out of 3 children, or roughly 15 million kids, grew up without a father (link).