How I Learned One Important Life Lesson from my Two Dads
They weren’t a couple but together, they drove the message home
As a child, I never understood what role a Dad was meant to take. I lost both of my Dads pretty early in life. It wasn’t from death or anything drastic. It was merely because each one left and never returned. I can’t say I know either of them very well. The memories of each one are far and few between.
What I do remember is that my birth Dad left when I was eighteen months old. When he returned it was awkward. Saying “hello” on my birthday, where he would exchange gifts for a kiss. I don’t remember having a real conversation with him or know anything about him. In the eyes of a small child, he was a very tall, dark man with big brown eyes who arrived with his arms full of presents. Then he disappeared for 364 days.
The last time I saw him, I had just turned nine and on this particular birthday, there were no presents. He did promise to take me shopping the following day. The next day I waited on our front doorstep until it was dark, but my birth Dad never came. That was the last time I ever heard from him. It was then that words meant nothing to me, unless there was action behind them.
In comparison, my step-dad was short and fun. He moved in with us when I was five. I’d often wake up to giant Leggo constructions, he’d leave in the living room. I played with them for days making up stories about the people living in them: normal families with happy lives–as normal as I could imagine. This was where my writing began to develop. I wrote short stories about these families for English class and received top marks for writing.
Neither of my dads ever parented me. In fact, I’d actually go as far to say when they left, they left me to pick up the pieces.
Both my mum and step-dad worked odd hours. On the nights Mum was at work, my step-dad would stay home to take care of me. He didn’t quite understand that you couldn’t send a 6-year-old child out into the night in London to buy takeaway food and expect them to feel safe. Feeling scared, I refused to do it. This meant going to bed hungry.
I realised I had to be completely self-sufficient. This meant making friends with the next door neighbours, a middle-class English family of four. Their mother used to feed me on most nights that Mum worked. It was easier than depending on my step-dad to feed me. If it were up to him, he would send me out for take-away or he cooked extremely spicy Indian food, which most children would find it hard to eat.
Of course, my neighbours never mentioned anything to my parents. They loved everything organic and made things from scratch. These parents were delighted to see a child eat vegetables without moaning. It never occurred to them I was practically starving of nutrients. There is only so much spicy or processed food a child can eat without it affecting their health and mental well-being.
By the time I was nine and my brother was born, we moved to Nassau, The Bahamas. It was where I learnt to swim. I stayed with a European family of three on the weekends. They would take me out on their boat or I would have skateboard competitions with their daughter on their long driveway.
A few years later my step-dad left. Mum decided to take my 2-year old brother and me to live with her sister in Sydney, Australia. The land down under was a terrain of heat, beaches, and surfing. I often had to take care of my younger brother because Mum was so heart broken. It took her years to recover.
Both Dads Gave me a True Blessing
It’s fortunate to realise at an early age that no one is going to provide what you need in life, let alone hand over your dreams. Instead, you can learn to get out and capture it yourself.
It makes you open-minded to various cultures, people, views, and subjects. The more you experience life as a self-sufficient individual, the more subjects you become knowledgeable about and the more situations you learn to handle.
Usually, it makes you gain entrepreneurial skills that are an asset to employers and communities, and you naturally become a Man of Action who learns to leverage limitations to step up to success.
Most people have the biggest obstacle with fear-based thoughts. Fear makes you dependent on other people. In contrast, when you’re self-sufficient, you become independent, courageous and as a result a seeker of truth.
I’ll admit, a daughter at some point needs her Dad. There were many times I wished that at least one of my Dads had stuck around. But because they didn’t, male friends who are also a dad say I have naturally developed 7 Personality Traits of a Game Changer. But to be completely honest, I’m just a person who has made the best out of life by learning from her mistakes.
I may have turned out to be completely different had either of my dads stuck around. With this last thought, I have no regrets about the way I was raised, or the choices I have made. It’s made me the person I am today, a self-sufficient and resilient person. For me my dads leaving was a blessing in disguise.
What important life lesson have you learned from your Dad? If you are a Dad — what life lesson would you like to teach your child? Please comment below. All comments are most welcome
words by Caria Watt 2017
photo by Ryan McGuir 2017
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Caria Watt is a TV host and writer. She lives in Sydney with her over friendly cavalier dog named Tristan. In her spare time you’ll find her burning toast whilst simultaneously reading or learning code to feed her entrepreneurial addiction. She’s on Twitter @wattisnow, is a weekly columnist for The Good Men Project and The eWord Magazine.
Originally published at goodmenproject.com on February 4, 2017.