I have childhood memories of my biological father up until the age of six. Some memories are wonderful and I carry them around with a firm grasp, like a stuffed animal a child doesn’t want to let go of. I remember riding around on the carousel in Salem, Oregon and feeling as if life was this perfect thing that could never be broken.

Other memories I’m left with aren’t so wonderful. I remember my father leaving my younger sister and I in the backseat of his car with two dogs for so long that I called the police on the flip phone he left behind.

Nonetheless, I loved my biological father. In my eyes, at the time, nothing he did was wrong or hurtful. He was my hero and that’s something I’ll never forget. To this day, I wish I had a proper relationship with my biological father, and so Father’s Day has always been hard for me because I used to feel as though I’d been robbed of the experience of having a father.

At the vulnerable and impressionable age of six, my parents split —shattering my world into a million pieces. I moved to Toronto with my mother and my sister, leaving my father in my hometown in Seattle. From the moment my parents split, my mother was my rock. She took on both roles of being my mom and dad —which was pretty damn cool.

“At the know-it-all age of fourteen, I met the man who’d become the one I would celebrate on Father’s Day.”

At the know-it-all age of fourteen, I met the man who’d become the one I would celebrate on Father’s Day. Standoffish at first, I didn’t know what to expect from him and set the bar high —creating some pretty big shoes for him to fill. I crossed my fingers, hoping we’d get along and he’d stick around for a while. After spending some time with him, I knew my mom had found the piece that was missing from our family for all those years.

The experience of having a step-father, or fatherly figure in my situation, is almost exactly what I envisioned at six years old. He looks out for me like a father should —in ways that sometimes get on my nerves, in the best way possible. My fatherly figure filled the shoes that needed filling —and they seem to fit just right.

On this Father’s Day, I want to say thank you to him for being the dad I didn’t have when I was young, but always wanted. I’m lucky to have him in my life now, even if sometimes I don’t act like it.

Additionally, I want to thank my mother for the times she’s stepped up to the plate and been both my mom and dad.

I also want to tell my biological father I’m grateful for how he loves me from a distance, giving me the space to grow into the person I want to be.

“[Father’s Day] is about whoever makes you happy, supports you, and encourages you to be your best self.”

This Father’s Day, I’m here to remind you that your biological father doesn’t need to be at the centre of your celebrations —it can be your mother, a step-parent, an aunt or an uncle. Today is about whoever makes you happy, supports you, and encourages you to be your best self. This Father’s Day, surround yourself with, and celebrate, the people that you love oh so dearly.

 

Katherine Lidtke is an Online Contributor for Muse Magazine.