My Dad Used To Forget Me

When I was a little kid, my dad would sometimes to pick me up on Sundays, which was the day he was supposed to see me according to court papers. 

Back then I was one of a handful of kids in my school whose parents were divorced and we’d sort of cluster together. It was Bedford, New Hampshire, and there was this massive influx of McMansions filled with parents where there were two parents and quilts on the bed and Swedish meatballs on the stove.

I wanted that.

And it felt like everyone else had that and us ‘latchkey’ kids were not the norm. This was made super obvious during an assembly in seventh grade where the counselor made all of us kids with divorced parents raise our hands in front of everyone else.

“There is nothing to be ashamed of,” she told us while everyone else stared.

It was the first time I felt ashamed of my parents being divorced. A kid named Erik was raising his hand next to me and muttered the f-word under his breath. This made him ridiculously cool, but also made me feel better because he thought it was ridiculous, too.

“They’re singling us out,” I whispered.

Another one of us, Jen, looked like she was crying.

“Let’s stand up,” Erik said.

I think it was our seventh-grade version of claiming it.

Erik stood up.

I stood up.

Erik bowed a bow with a million theater-kid flourishes. I bowed too. So did Jen.

“You don’t have to stand up,” the counselor lady said.

We stood up. Because if you’re going to get called out for being different, you might as well own it. And for a second, I felt okay about it. I had Erik. I had Jen. I had a couple other people.

But even compared to Erik and Jen, I knew I stood out, because everyone else went to their dad’s for the whole weekend and their dad’s never actually forgot about them. Not like my dad.

I’d stare out the bedroom window at the long driveway. He was always supposed to pick me up at 10. He rarely picked me up at 10. Sometimes Mom would have to call to remind him. 

“He’s a forgetful man,” she’d say.

He was. He rarely knew the day of the week or people’s phone numbers. But their stories? He would remember those perfectly. 

I’d climb into his beige Ford Escort, horrified that my rich friends might see me in such an uncool car and he’d hand me the check for my mom and apologize for being late. 

“I didn’t forget you,” he’d say, tearing up. “I’m so sorry. Time got away from me.”

Or sometimes it was, “I didn’t forget you. I forgot it was Sunday!”

Or sometimes it was, “I didn’t forget you. I got to talking to your uncle, Kilton.”

My almost-always response was, “Mm. Hm.”

“I don’t want you to feel forgotten.” He always said this and I knew he meant it, but I did feel forgotten a lot of the time, my poor dad. 

It’s pretty normal to feel forgotten or looked over sometimes.  And it’s hard to deal with when that happens in your own family or friends groups.

Quick Tips for When You Feel Forgettable

Expand Your Social Circle

If your friends fail to invite you to things enough to feel forgotten. Find new ones. They are missing out on your fabulousness.

You can do this with family, too.

Honestly, my poor dad, when this kept happening to me when I was little I found about 800 father figures to fill in.

Surround yourself with people who remember you.

Tell People You Miss Them WHEN YOU MISS THEM

Seriously, if you’re missing your friends, tell them. They might be clueless like my dad.

Or, they might miss you, too.

Realize That You’re Important in This World

Yep. You are. You matter to your dog, to your cat, to your ferret. You matter to the kids you teach, the people you study with, the people you work with and it’s good to remember that, but sometimes it’s so hard.

And when it’s hard, I want you to think about these questions.

What do you do to make a difference in this world?

Do you volunteer?

Help your parents?

Help your kids?

I bet there are more ways that you matter than you realize and when you remember those ways? It’s easier to not feel so forgotten.

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