"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." -Sigmund Freud
This Father's Day I am looking forward to honoring my husband Dennis, an amazing father to our two little ones, with extra sleep, breakfast, beer, maybe a lobster roll on a beach, or anything else he may want in addition to the smeary clay pottery the kids made for him that says "I love you, Daddy." For me seeing my kids celebrate Daddy is more than just a fun day in June. It's proof of an awesome monumental shift in my own life that started with my father righting a wrong.
Like so many other kids in America I grew up fatherless. When I got old enough to wonder who my real father was I found him, and he happened to become the Governor of Rhode Island so it was easy for me to find his work address pre-Google to send him a letter. It would take many more letters and phone calls from me, and eventually lawyers, to make my father acknowledge me. It was messy, and difficult, but the happy ending is why I wrote a memoir called Finding Dad: From Love Child to Daughter. I want people to know it's never too late to forgive. I want fathers to know your kids need you to be a Dad, so even if you messed up go back and ask for a re-do.
My father did a 180. He asked me to come and live with him as I was about to turn 18 so we could get to know each other. I did and met the other half of me. My father's entrance into my life felt like someone poured concrete into my shaky foundation. My mother was a devoted single mom, but she was only half of the recipe that I needed to feel safe in the world.
We are becoming a fatherless America with one out of every three births occurring outside a marriage and many fathers have little or no connection with their children. If we want a healthy, stable, and yes prosperous America we need fathers. Just look a what Freud taught us at the top of this post. On the journey to find my father I found myself as I went from love child to daughter. My father righted his wrongs in moments. There was no long maudlin speech about messing up, we used humor to ease the awkwardness like when a woman said, "Governor, can you kiss my baby," at a political event and he said to her "Have you met my new baby?" putting his arm around me. He walked me down the aisle and handed me over the a great guy that has become the father every little kid dreams of to our children. Stats show, and I believe, I wouldn't have ended up with such a loving, healthy marriage, without a father. My father healed me by doing things for my children he missed with me, little things like getting ice cream on Father's Day. I've learned forgiveness is a tunnel to love. So dads, on this Father's Day have fun kicking a ball, relaxing at the beach, opening up sweet gifts and know you matter. If things aren't good with your kids, make them right. America needs dads.
Thanks to my dad Bruce Sundlun for making it all better.
Finding Dad: From Love Child to Daughter comes out this fall.