Lately, as I inch closer to 39 and next year 40, I think about a lot of things. Yesterday, one of the things I frequently think about came up, and that is how I’m nothing like my father. It only came up because for the first time in two and a half years, he called.
I, because I am stubborn and hold grudges like you would hold the last bite of the tastiest of desserts, watched it go to voicemail. I have not responded. Instead, I talked to my wife, and then talked to her father, who I happen to hold in the highest of regards.
Sure, my dad and I have a few things in common. We even share some of the same features. But, outside of those minor things, we are nothing alike.
I think about that. I have 5 children. Two by birth, three by marriage. Three of them, if you saw us walking along together with no context, you’d think, like lots of idiots have, that I’m babysitting them.
I’m not. I’m very much their parent. The girls are so much like me, it’s insane. They talk like me, tell jokes like me, act like me…it’s like watching myself sometimes.
I don’t look at them as step-children. Sure they have a dad, but I’m with 4 of the 5, nearly every moment of every day. I treat all 5 the same. No one gets special treatment. Let’s be real for a second, I by no means think I’m like this super great dad. I’m sure, if you ask them, they would tell you the same. On any given day, on a scale of 1-10, I sit between A 5.5 and 6.
My dad, for what it’s worth, wasn’t around much. Not for anything I deemed “big” in my life. All of my high school football games, track meets, weddings (yes plural) he just wasn’t there. And when he was there, he wasn’t. If that makes sense. It’s like he would have rather been anywhere else but there.
Those are the things I think about when dealing with my children. I don’t want them to get to the stage in life where I am, and say that I wasn’t there for them.
I know plenty of people that have not had a father in their life. But, I think the biggest cop out I’ve heard from plenty of men, is the overly shitty phrase of
“Yeah but my father was never around…”
Bitch, please stop. Just don’t finish that sentence. It makes me want to punch them in the face. Just because someone’s not around, doesn’t mean you can’t learn right from wrong, good from bad, smart from stupid, all on your own.
I, don’t want my children to have to do that. I try to spend time with each of them every day. Listening. Being there. Being attentive. Asking about their day. Even if it’s the dumbest stuff I’ll hear that day, I listen. When they ask me to do things, I try to break my back doing it. I realize there’s going to come a time when they don’t ask, or might not need me, so I try now.
Case in point, three weeks ago, I was very sick. It happened to coincide with the Father-Daughter dance. I was so sick that I barely was out of bed that day. My wife forced me to stay in bed. At the very last minute, right before she got dressed to take them, I mustered up the strength and went.
All because I didn’t want to let any of them down. We had looked forward to it for weeks, and well, I had to go. I felt like crap the entire time, but there was a huge smile on my face.
I can say, that my dad did none of that. If he didn’t want to do something, he didn’t. I’m not bitter, I’m not angry. I just look at what he was not, or what he didn’t do, and do the exact opposite.
He does not know my wife. He, at the last minute, opted not to go to the wedding. A shitty excuse as to why he couldn’t attend. Since that moment, it’s been almost 3 years since I got married. He does not know my children, hell, I bet a million dollars he doesn’t know the girls names. He never asks about Jordan, who will be 16 this year. I highly doubt he realizes he has a fairly new grandchild, Finn. Nor has he bothered to ask. At this point, because I’m stubborn as fuck, I think the window is permanently closed. Which for him, it’s a shame because, I’m biased, I think my family is pretty amazing.
Point is. I aim to be everything he was not with me. My kids may think at times I’m annoying, that my dad Jokes suck, that I could ease up and not check their homework every day, or that I’m all up in their business, but I want them to know I’m here and will always be here. That I care. That their little events at school, I’m there. Or sports games. Or whatever they deem to be important, I will be there.
Because at the end of the day, I’m nothing like my father, and that is 100% fine by me.