J.W., a father

I never lived with my biological father.
We never slept under the same roof,
shared a movie, cuddling on the couch.
He never got to hold my hand or see my firsts:
My first steps
My first day of school
My first time driving a car.
And I didn’t miss having him in my life
Because he was never there
So I didn’t truly feel a loss from the beginning.

It didn’t really bother me
During those formative years.
My mother and my grandfather
Did the best they could
to fill in the gaps.
They let me know that I was loved.
And I felt loved
Deep into my heart and bones.

When we made Father’s Day crafts or gifts
at school, I always gave them to 
My grandfather, my Pepe.
He was my first male role model,
along with my uncle.

It was only when I became a teenager
Did I first feel that loss,
Feeling unwanted
And unloved, even unworthy.
Then as a mom,
When my children had their firsts:
First crawl, first bite of peas,
First steps, etc.
Did I realize that he missed out on a lot.
How could he ever play catch-up, 
if he wanted to,
and even the parenting/playing field?

Now I know the type of person,
Monster he was
And I am grateful 
that I didn’t have to share
A roof with him.
I didn’t need his resources,
His attention or discipline.

And I gained so much:
My independence
My self-reliance
My kinship with my siblings.
We all shared the same upbringing.
And I didn’t have to share my mom’s heart
or her attention, besides my own siblings.
And we created our own traditions
And special days together.
It didn’t have to be material
to make a difference.

I haven’t seen my biological father, J.W.
Since I was 17.
I couldn’t tell you if he was
Alive or dead.
He is a stranger among strangers.
And my family has always been complete
Even without his presence.