Father(less) Day

Today is the Sunday in June that we celebrate the fathers in our lives. Cards with fish and beer on them fill the Hallmark aisle at the grocery. I see mothers with their small children choosing a gift for Daddy, and never really deciding on something good enough.

If you are a father, bless you. Love that child with all of your heart (and be kind and supportive to your baby mama, too). May today be filled with giggles and hugs and fond remembrances of all things Daddy and me.

I’m lucky to be married to a fantastic father to our only child. He has always been there for her (and to me, his baby mama) and she is truly a Daddy’s girl.

But what happens when you don’t have your own father to shower with affection on this Father’s Day? My own father passed away when I was 27. For those of you that assumed I am 29, I love you. But alas, my father has been gone for over 19 years now. Wow.

My father and I didn’t have the best relationship when I was growing up. I was a surprise baby to my parents, my mother was 27 and my father, 31 in the early 1970s. They never wanted children-a fact my father reminded me of, often. He adored alcohol. That’s the only way I can put it. He drank…and he drank…and he drank. Not a nice drunk either.

Before you go feelin’ all sorry for me, please know, I’m not writing this as some therapy session or even for your pity. But the trials and tribulations I went through made me who I am today. I’m a survivor (please sing Beyonce now, it’s ok, I am). I’m tough as nails and wont let just anyone try to cut me down or allow blatant disrespect. I also have the backs of others. Yeah, try talking shit about my friend around me…I’ll be the first one contradicting you.

My Father and I had a rocky relationship, but I always loved him…I still do. We made amends when I graduated from college and became an “adult”. I still remember the talk, over a beer, at his favorite bar. I listed out all of the stuff that I hated him for. Surprisingly, he had his own grievances against me (many on point). Of course I forgave him. He forgave me, too. We were then able to build a bond and relationship a bit before he got really sick. I look back with fondness at those years, and try to block out the other bits.

So this Father’s Day, while I cannot give him a card about drinking beer or hug him, I can share with you the lessons I learned from him.

Lesson 1: The lesson of respecting yourself and standing up for those who may be weaker than you. I used to stand up for my mother, now I do it as a career for others.

Lesson 2: That life is too short to be unhappy. Leave a job that is draining your mojo. Leave a relationship that makes you sad. Ditch “friends” that really aren’t your friends.

Lesson 3: Forgiveness is everything. Get over yourself. Acknowledge the wrongs and the hurts, then forgive. To leave everything unsettled is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Ask for forgiveness if you need it, too.

Lesson 4: Never wrap a gun in a ski mask. This is a bit of an inside joke – but I know he’s laughing his ass off wherever he is.

Parents do the best they can. My Dad never wanted to be a Dad. When faced with this impending fact, he didn’t know what to do. There’s no manual on fathering or mothering, for that matter. Being a parent is scary stuff. Here’s this teeny tiny little helpless human needing you – yes, and that means any and all baggage you may be carrying, too.

My Father wasn’t a great one, but he was mine. He inadvertently shaped me into the strong, successful woman I am today. I could have tons of resentment for the lack of a caring and loving Father, but be careful with your judgements-I had to learn another lesson.

Lesson 5: My Father loved me and was proud of me. I only learned this at his funeral, sadly. A man my Father worked with for over 30 years came to my Dad’s funeral. When I recognized him, he told me that my Father was so proud of me. That he talked about my accomplishments to his team at work, and showed all of them my school pictures.

I never knew.

So today, if you have a Father that’s still alive and you know how to reach him. Do it. Call him, drive over, just let him know that you love him. Forgive him if you can (you should) and start the path to reconciliation.

Be sure to tell your kids you love them. They need to hear it. Don’t let it be implied. And most importantly of all, have a terrific day with your kids and your Dad today.

Happy Father’s Day!

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