On Father’s Day we wait.
We wait while I make excuses. Light flippant excuses in a jittery voice trying not to display my anxiety.
“Is Daddy coming over,” They ask.
I try to downplay it. He might have to work. But you never know. I change the topic.
Shall we make banana bread? Shall we get out the craft box? Who wants to watch a movie?
But in my head I count the minutes and listen for the cars below.
It isn’t unusual for my kids. They are used to waiting, not knowing.
It’s one of many days we wait but it’s one of the days the waiting is worst.
Will he? Won’t he? Do they care? Are they okay? Is this affecting them?
I obsess over their behaviour, what they say, how they move, each look and pause. When they stop and stare are they thinking of him? Or is this just what they know and what they accept? Are they instead looking forward to baking and a movie?
Questions flood my mind. Scenarios play out. Why should we wait, I berate myself. Shouldn’t we just damn him and make it our day. A day of certainties.
How dare he do this again. I am a fool for being this weak.
For years it was easy – our children were too young, they didn’t know it was Father’s Day.
I could let it slide away, an unspoken occasion.
But now they are older there is an expectation, there is a lead up. Missed events at school. Mornings I take them in late so that they aren’t the only ones without a Daddy at morning tea. Craft items I store in a box just in case.
For weeks in advance I make excuses, plans in my head. If he doesn’t show by 10am I will take them to the park. If he doesn’t show by lunchtime we will voyage to the zoo. I imagine I am brave enough to leave a note. “Too late. You missed us. Maybe next time huh?”
But I know that probably we will just wait.
My children will think its just an ordinary day until they remember mid morning and then will ask is Daddy coming over today. And I will say hopefully and maybe and use phrases like “lots of work” and “very busy” and “we might have to have our own special Father’s Day next time he drops in”. I smile and laugh at how funny he is.
You know him girls. So unpredictable.
But secretly I seethe.
I want to say f*ck him. I want to scream at how I hate him. Hate this. I want to give ultimatums and deadlines and have plans fixed in writing.
But I know that doesn’t work.
When he left us six years ago, I had horror-filled vision of a future filled with lawyers and shared care and weekends on and off, but it never came about.
Instead he just left. Not a word for years. When he finally made contact it was haphazard.
Here and then. Spontaneous drops ins that delighted our children and infuriated me.
But it is now what they are used to.
If anyone told me years ago I could put up with this I would laugh. Not me. I wouldn’t be a doormat like that. But you change for your children. They become your priority.
They are happy, well adjusted loving girls. Two intelligent, grounded children who feel secure that their father loves them. He just “works a lot” we say. He is just not like the other Dads.
They see him when he is up, when he is joyous. When he is around and able and pitifully we take what we can get.
Part of me wishes I had the courage to tell him to go to hell but then my girls would be the lesser.
And so we wait.
We will spend the day at home.
I will plan baking and craft and hope for rainy weather so that it feels natural and normal to leave the TV on and the oven on rotation. If he shows up they will shower him with kisses and the cards they made at school and I will pretend to be thrilled by it all wishing silently he could just go again and counting down the hours till the sun fades and he is beckoned away by whatever motivates him to leave.
And then I will relax.
Part of me hopes selfishly he will just vanish again for years leaving us to structure and routine and schedules.
But the other part knows how delighted my daughters are when his car pulls up outside the downstairs window.
And so this Father’s Day, once again, we will wait.
How do you spend Father’s Day?