You know, I never thought growing up without Dad bothered me that much or that I was 'emotionally scarred' in any way as a result of not having a present father, but its odd how the emotional reaction kicks in when there's prompting.
When I was a kid, I used to be a bit envious of friends who had dads, and if they were nice dads, I used to 'borrow' them, joining in the family activities. Apart from the occasional gnawings of jealousy, I remember being a happy child and feeling as if I had a full and nurturing family.
It used to make me cross when teachers and school psychologists referred to me as coming from a 'broken home', a circumstance to which they used to ascribe all my intractable behavior (and I was very intractable). I wanted to take credit for my own behavioral aberrations. I was proud of them. I didn't think my parents deserved any credit, and I still don't. I honestly don't think I'd have been a 'good' child even if Dad had been around.There's no way of knowing for sure, because he wasn't.
He used to visit sometimes, and the frequency of the visits increased after I called him 'Uncle' when I was just five or six. Its the most manipulative bit of behavior I can remember being guilty of. I definitely knew what I was doing and why, and it worked. People just don't realize how clever kids can be. Kids are supposed to be all innocent and a bit gormless. They know it, and they use it to advantage on occasion.
Then Dad married again, and his new wife had two children of about our age. The visits all but stopped, and he used to talk about 'Our children' (my step brother and sister) and 'Your children' (my brother and I, now the miraculous result of human parthenogenesis). I suppose that hit me on the raw a bit, it still makes me squirm, but it was hardly traumatic. Kids are resilient. They take life as they find it.
I was thinking about growing up without Dad recently, and suddenly, I got all emotional about it: angry, my hands were actually shaking. Its ridiculous that something I've never thought bothered me that much should affect me so strongly at an age when it honestly shouldn't matter to me any more. I'm not really angry with him, but I'm angry about being without him even though I understand why he wasn't there.
Once again, I find myself thanking God (who I don't believe in) that I don't have kids. I'll never be 'mature' enough. I don't think anyone is. Grown ups are just big kids with more issues and worse habits. Its a pity kids don't realize it.