The Difference Between a Dad and a Father

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The Difference Between a Dad and a Father

Kailee Speer, Writer

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I remember waking up at my aunt’s house to the smell of coffee and the sound of my biological father playing guitar softly. He loved music more than anything, which I guess is where I get it from. The summers I spent with him always seemed the best. We live so far away from the rest of our family, so getting to see my family was special–it was always my vacation away from home, as I normally stayed with my mom and step-dad.  

My father would always tell me how much he loved and cared about me. Yet, there is a thing about family–they don’t always end up being who you want them to be.  However, there are other times that the people who you least expect to step up, become family. It took me until my freshman year to realize that this was the case for me.

I was three when my parents separated, and soon after, my mom and I moved to Georgia. I didn’t hear from my father again until I was around nine. He called my mom and asked if I could come up to his house for the summer, and that became a tradition every year until my freshman year.

Just as soon as summer began, it came to an end. I wouldn’t hear from him again until it was time to go up to his house for the summer. There were years of bike rides and late night walks to the local run-down gas station, followed by nights where he would talk to me about my home life back in Arkansas; it all seemed perfect. I had a great time with him, and he never forgot to remind me just how much he loved me. I was young and naive. Throughout those 14 years of my life, I was so attached to the idea that “He’s your dad, Kailee. All dads love their daughters.” I was wrong. He didn’t love me. He simply felt obligated to take care of me for a few short months out of the year.

Christmas night of my freshman year, I called my father and wished him a Merry Christmas. My step-dad was in the living room with my little brother, and my mom was in my brother’s room unpackaging the gifts that he had received.

We had a quick conversation about how his Christmas was going, and I told him, “I love you,” and he said, “Okay, good night,” then hung up quickly. At first, I didn’t know what that meant, but then I realized something. My dad left me because he didn’t love me. This would be the night I felt my heart break for the first time.

My mom heard me crying from the other room and quickly came in. She was concerned, because she knew what had happened. She sat me on my bed and reminded me that she loved me unconditionally. Then, she told me that when I was three, my dad paid for her to take me and leave. He only cared because he felt obligated to; he never paid child support, so this was the only way he could make up for it.

That night, I realized how high a pedestal I put my biological dad up on. My mom reminded me that my step-dad was always there. That he loved me unconditionally, like I was his own daughter. From then on, I knew that not all dads love their daughters. I knew that it takes a special person to be a father. It takes a warm heart and open arms.

July 11, 2016, my step-dad Jason adopted me. That was the day that I let go of the man who only cared because he was scared. It may have taken me an absent biological father and 14 years to realize that my step-dad was the dad who loved me because I was worth loving, but I have never felt more open and loved.

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