(Still) The Perfect Dad For Me

Reposting. Again.

It's Father's Day, and I want to tell you a bit about my good dad.

What I say about my dad most likely would differ from what my sister or brother would say.

Quite often one child sees a parent differently than another, with many dynamics influencing the relationship. Gender, interests, sense of humor, birth order, and temperament are all factors in parent/child relationships. Also, relationships can change over time, for example I think had my brother not died so young he and my/our dad may have grown even closer as my brother spent more time being a father.

Anyway, that said, here's what I want to say about my dad.

My dad was the perfect dad for me. I know I disappointed him sometimes but I also know he truly forgave me when I did. My dad was completely dedicated to me, to all of his kids, to our family.

I know this because we talked about it once while canoeing. At this point in life I was a grown woman and mom. The conversation started out with me admonishing him for being snarky with my mom, before she even did anything annoying, almost in anticipation. I told him it made him look bad and if he was so angry with my mom, why hadn't they just split up ages ago and put everyone out of their misery?

Well, I never expected the response I got and will never forget it.

He told me there was no way he'd have ever left us kids. That if he and my mom had split up, there's no way back then he'd have gotten custody of us. He'd made a commitment to my brother and sister and I and no matter how difficult his life was being married to my mom, he would never have left us alone with her, never have put his own needs ahead of ours. In his mind, he was one of our needs.


And that was just the biggie.

My dad also coached my softball teams and never complained about the shit bag lunches I grudgingly made him. He came out to watch me participate in everything I did, and sincerely forgave me when I messed up. My dad set an example of being hard working, honest, and kind to others. He taught me about short term pain for long term gain and about pride in integrity.

I learned from him to walk away from trouble but that there's also times when there's a need for dropping the gloves to fight for myself or what's right. Yeah, at times there was a generation gap between Dad's and my beliefs but he understood and accepted that. Another lesson learned.

My dad was the most excellent grandfather to my son. How fortunate to have had a dad who provided my son with such a positive male role model. Oh how grandpa is missed.

My dad taught my son and I about finding joy in the smallest of things, a perfect butter tart or a pair of socks wrapped up for Christmas.

I was fortunate to see my dad in two lights, the frugal, hard working husband and father and the retired, laid back, "let me by you a drink" father and grandfather.

I loved dancing with my dad. Who didn't?

As an adult in the home I have now I loved preparing him a special meal, bringing him a cup of coffee, mixing him a perfect rum and coke, not too strong. He was always so appreciative, got so much out of being here with me, my husband, and my son, his grandson, his partner.

One of my last memories of dad was of him sitting here in my living room, smile on his face, and him telling me how much he loved being in my home. I cherish that and all my other memories of my dad.

I am so lucky to have had the perfect dad for me.

Happy Father's Day to all you good dads out there. You rock.


Hear me

If you could just realize that this is the only you you've got.

If you could just figure out how to embrace yourself, accept yourself. If you could just understand that we need to surround ourselves with people who want to appreciate our best self. It's all anyone can do, put their best self forward. 
We can't force others to appreciate and love us in a way that we desire. We can make our needs known and then it's out of our hands. It will be what it will be. It will be enough, or not. The people we love will care how we feel, or they won't and we can choose to take it or leave it, decide if the good outweighs the bad. 

We are far more than how our parents treat us. We are impacted, influenced, and shaped by our relationships or lack thereof with our family but ultimately, we are our own person. It's incredibly freeing to say, here is my best, take it or leave it. Relate to me in a way that is good for my spirit and if you don't care to, or, at the very least, bother to try, I will limit or eliminate entirely the time we spend together. If I choose to allow you to stay in my life, accept the fact that in not caring about how I feel and what I need,  you will affect the me you get, affect how I relate to you, how I love you.

There comes a point when we need to be completely honest with ourself and accept when someone will never become the parent that we want. A point where we stop trying to be something we're not to win the approval and appreciation of someone who'll never approve or appreciate.

I don't mean stop being good and kind and true to ourselves, I mean stop expecting or yearning for an appropriate and fulfilling reaction to our best self.

Be your best self for yourself and if you are fortunate enough along the way to touch others in a way that moves them to show their love and appreciation in a way that we find meaningful, it's what love and life is all about.

Some of us will not have the parental relationships that dreams are made of but it doesn't have to prevent us from experiencing very real and meaningful emotional connections with other people,  we just need to keep the parental disappointment from hindering us in putting our best self out there for the world. 

If we can manage to appreciate and accept ourselves, we will find that others will begin to also, maybe even some of those parents who previously were impossible to reach.

Or maybe not, and if not, it's their loss.