I Am His Daughter
I knew from a very early age the man that was raising me wasn’t my “real” dad. Funny part is I don’t remember when my mom told me he wasn’t my real dad. I feel like I just always knew. I called him dad so it didn’t really make a difference to me either way. I never heard my mom talk about my birth father. All I knew was she got a child support check from him for a $150 a month. It wasn’t until I was older that I knew the backstory of how I came to be.
Phil “my dad” (the only dad I know & not a fan of the word “Step Dad”) had two children from a previous marriage. His daughter lived with us for a short period. Her and I shared a room and that is the extent of any sort of relationship we ever had. I was so young at the time that I don’t remember seeing her there too often. Her and I never got to know one another and still to this day we don’t talk or see each other. Although, my parents ended up divorcing when I was 19 so I don’t see a reason to keep in touch. His son Jim always referred to me as “Becky’s Daughter”. I have never been “Phil’s daughter” or even a “Step-Sister”. “Our” dad doesn’t talk to his other kids. It’s a very sore subject around my dad. One thing about my dad is he is a very stubborn man and won’t pick up the phone and make the call.
Growing up I feared my dad. Not because he was mean, but you didn’t mess with my dad. If I got in trouble, I got a wiping from the belt. I also loved to spend time with my dad when it was just the two of us. He would often pick me up from my Aunt Katie’s house after he got off work. I remember driving with him and sometimes we would stop and grab a Root Beer or late lunch somewhere. Funny thing was that I didn’t really like Root Beer but I liked the bottle it came in. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. I remember always talking to my dad. He usually did all of the talking and I would act as if I was listening. Now as I am older he does all of the listening and I do most of the talking. My dad and I would watch TV together and would often play cards. He always beats me at Gin Rummy. Looking back those were some of the best memories of my childhood.
Occasionally he would drop me off and school and when he did he made sure everyone knew I was being dropped off. He would roll down the window and honk his horn and yell…”Lisa is here!” I would sink down in the seat and die of embarrassment. If I wanted anything at a store he would always ask me, “Where is your money?” I of course never had any and I would walk out empty handed. It didn’t feel so good back then, but I appreciate him for not spoiling me and giving me everything I wanted. It taught me the value of money and I had to work hard to earn things I wanted.
I didn’t always like my dad. We have had our fair share of arguments and for a time we didn’t talk at all. My dad did some not so great things. On my first Mother’s Day he came to visit me to tell me that he was cheating on my mom and he was going to leave her. He asked me not to tell her. What was I supposed to do? Well, I kept my word and I didn’t tell my mom. Trust me, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be put in the middle. Of course my mom was upset when she found out I knew and didn’t tell her.
My dad has also used my name on his business and the IRS came looking to me to get money my dad had owed. I even had to call the authorities to get it sorted out. It is safe to say my dad wasn’t pleased with my course of action. Had my dad just said that he messed up and was sorry I could have handled it oh so differently. We didn’t talk for six months after that all went down. He also royally screwed my mom in the financial department as well. But my mom is responsible for her own actions. She trusted my dad and turned a blind eye to his dealings and she signed on the bottom line not realizing it would come back to bite her in the ass. She had to pay the IRS back thousands of dollars. Shall I go on… My dad owes my mom’s family money that he will never pay back. It’s really unfortunate that he doesn’t make any attempts to make amends. Seeing what my dad did taught me never to do the same to others.
Around the age of 12 when things were beginning to go bad “financially” for my parents, I would visit my grandparent’s house and boy did I get an ear full from them. My aunts, uncle, and grandparents didn’t spare me and would often tell me their feelings on the matters of my dad and my mom. Little did they know how much it affected me. Of course I was angered by what my dad was doing, but what angered me more or hurt me the most was my mom’s family telling me how they felt. Tell the adult… but NEVER a child.
My mom started drinking again. I was usually the one that took the brunt of her drunkenness. My dad could have left her so many time, but he stayed for me. If he only knew some of the things my mom did while under the influence he would have left and fought to make sure he had custody of me. Luckily, when I turned 15 my mom decided to seek help and stop drinking.
When I was 19 and pregnant with my son Nathan I met my “Birth” father, Rudy Martinez. He reached out to my grandma and asked to get in contact with me. It became clear to me that all he really wanted was a relationship with my mom. I was heartbroken when he decided to cut off contact with me. I called my dad and told him the entire story and he cried with me. I initially kept it from my dad that I was in contact with Rudy because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He understood and never said anything to make me feel bad about me wanting to know more about my birth father.
I asked him why he never adopted me? He apologized if not adopting me had hurt my feelings. To him, “I am his daughter” and he didn’t need a piece of paper to tell him so. When people see us together they say we look alike. We give each other that look like we know the truth. My dad has never said, “Oh that’s funny because she isn’t mine.” NEVER! He would say, “Yes, and isn’t she beautiful?”
When my parents divorced, my mom bad mouthed my dad every chance she had. My dad has never told me things my mom did in the past to get me to turn on her. They both equally had their faults and should have divorced years before they did but what’s done is done. My dad only tells me about what he wished he had done differently. In fact, if I call to vent about my mom, he always tells me, “She is your mom and you need to love and respect her.” It isn’t an easy task, trust me, but I try.
I hope that my marriage never ends in divorce, but I know one thing for sure…. I will do my very best to not bad mouth my husband to my kids. What happens in my marriage is none of my children’s business. They do not need to bear the burden of our mistakes or hardships. If I bad mouth their dad they will eventually resent me for doing so and it will end up hurting my relationship with my children.
I appreciate all he has done for me even when at times he was really hard on me. It is because of him that I am who I am. He taught me to be hardworking, reliable, confident, persistent, dedicated, outgoing, and loving. I was so close to not graduating high school and he pushed me to not give up. He had me work in his restaurant from the time I was a little girl and he showed me what it meant to put in a hard day’s work. Yes, he bought me a car when I turned 16, but I payed for my car and my gas. He made me earn every penny. Nothing was ever handed to me on a silver platter. I learned not only from the things he taught me but from the mistakes he made.
What I want everyone to understand about my dad is that he made sure I was safe when NO ONE ELSE DID! He cared about me when everyone else just assumed I was fine living with a drunk Mom and druggy Brother. When people are bad mouthing him to me I say, “Stop, that’s my dad you’re talking about.” I chose to forgive him and have a relationship with him because it was important to me that he has a relationship with my children.
On paper my dad is a crook, cheater, liar, and master manipulator just to name a few. He has forgotten to call on me Birthday, and didn’t give me a wedding gift when I got married. I don’t care about material things or a forgotten Birthday. Even though I made him a calendar just so he would remember. The flip side is he is also kind, loving, and a great listener. I can count on him to be there for me when I need him. He always seems to call me just as I was about to call him, & has a sixth sense and knows when I am upset or sad. At the end of the day it comes down to this…. He is my dad and the only dad I have. And yes, I love him even with all of his faults.