What it’s Like Being a Fatherless Child

Every year when Father’s Day rolls around, I mostly ignore it.

My parents separated when I was two and my dads not been in my life much since then. 

In the few conversations we’ve had in my life, I gather that he’s busy feeling guilty about his mistakes, and he mulls over them while chain smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.

I remember the first time a friend suggested to me that perhaps I was affected by not having a dad. 

My immediate response was defense. I can see now that my younger self feared that if I admitted that perhaps not having a father impacted me, that I was admitting that I was fucked up.

So, I’ve spent the majority of my life not thinking too much about it, and mostly pretending it doesn’t really matter. I mean, after all, its all I’ve ever known.

In my thirties I spent a lot of time on a therapist’s couch, and there all the pain + sadness + loss had a safe space to bubble forth. I cried a lot + finally owned that for my two-year old self, it likely mattered a lot that my dad left and never really came back. (In fact, it felt like a crushing blow.)

Today, on Father’s Day, at the start of my forties, I want to take a moment to allow myself to share how it feels to be a fatherless child. 

I don’t really have a dad. I never have. 

I actually don’t fully understand or comprehend what that even means.

When I’m in the midst of big events, such as moving, sometimes I fantasize about having one. I imagine he’d come over with his truck and help with the big stuff. (Is that what dad’s do?)

At other times, when things are rough with my family or my mom, I imagine what it would be like to have someone else take my side, stick up for me, or just get what it’s like for me.

And then, there are moments where I wonder how one could not have a relationship with their child and seemingly not care enough about that to do anything different.

Being the spiritual woman that I am, I often settle on accepting things as they are. I don’t spend too much time lamenting what could have been, I mean…what’s the point?

My life is as it is and what’s done is done. 

I know that I look at my little girl, and when I see her in her papa’s arms, I feel happy. I am glad to know that she knows a father’s love and that she’ll grow up with two parents, with two different perspectives, that will help her to be whole + wise.

As for me, I don’t have a dad. I never really did. And I’m really glad if you do, that seems mighty special.

And, if you’re like me, and you didn’t, well then, we don’t know too much about all this, do we?

The heart’s a funny thing.

I’m crying as I write this. I feel sad, but it’s not for anything other than just acceptance of what my life has brought me- some really great treasures and some painful spots that hurt sometimes, but just like you, I’m doing my best. 

I guess sometimes I wish I had a dad. But if I did, I wouldn’t be me, now would I? So I guess I don’t really, after all. Confusing, right?

In its simplest form, I guess I have the wisdom now to know that not having a dad didn’t fuck me up, it’s just part of my story. Its my karma, my life this go-round + it ultimately doesn’t mean anything, save for the meaning I give it.

I didn’t grow up with a dad.

Maybe that’s sad. Maybe it’s a blessing. Truth be told, he’s not so great to be around. So maybe the fact that I’m a fatherless child is a gift from God.

It’s the paradox of life, isn’t it…our greatest wounds…as our greatest gifts…



To you and yours,


Rachel Claire



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