Just want to drop a note to all the fathers and Papas to be out there. Happy father’s day! Enjoy your cheesy neckties, and hopefully some homemade gifts. Being a father or dad to be really makes you think back on your relationship with your dad.
How was your relationship? My relationship with dad has been tumultuous over the years. I was an “accident” baby, which is difficult to comprehend when your grandmother tells you that at 13 years old. But that is a story for a different time.
When I was a baby and young boy my dad was in the US Navy. He worked on a nuclear submarine. He nearly missed my birth because of the Navy. They ended up inducing my mother one week early just so my dad could be at my birth. I guess that means he does love me; otherwise he probably wouldn’t have cared enough to schedule an induction.
Since he was in the Navy, he spent a lot of time at sea my first few years of life. He would be gone for six months at a time. When he was around, he worked strange hours, 12 on – 12 off for 4 days or 24 hour shifts. As a toddler, I was not able to depend on him being there. It’s really a shame, because I think he really wanted to be involved in my life. His job and need to support his family prevented this early in my life.
He worked hard to support our family. He was a young father, 20 years old when I was born; he was 18 or 19 when my sister was born. I can’t imagine having a child at that age. I had my first child at age 31. When I think back about being 19 years old…all I can do is laugh. Would I have been able to take care of an infant, mother, and support a family? It really makes me appreciate the hard work and sacrifice he put in to support us. I’ve never really thought about it from this perspective, and it’s too bad I didn’t have this insight 10 years ago when we had a bit of a falling out. He could have done the easy thing and walked away like so many deadbeats. But he stuck with us.
Anyway, his missing presence when I was young set the tone for our relationship for years to come. After he left the Navy, he went to college to become a professional. Again he worked hard to develop a good career for himself to support us, but it took him away from the home. This was long before the internet was even a thing, so forget about online courses. I developed a strong relationship and dependence on my mother because she is the one that was always there for me. Dad fell by the wayside. We never had a strong relationship as I grew. We didn’t have much in common. As my age grew closer to the double digits, we had fun together, but I don’t remember ever having a strong relationship with him. I have many memories of his quick temper and bad habits. It wasn’t all bad. I have some good memories; playing catch, fishing, building a pinewood derby car.
When I was around 11 or 12, my dad and mom started having serious relationship problems. It built up over a period a year. I knew something was wrong and something was going on. He became standoffish, lost pretty much all interested in anything with the family. He wasn’t around much. Eventually, on Memorial Day weekend my parents sat us down and told us they were getting a divorce. My world was suddenly shattered. But again, that is a story for another day.
The divorce happened pretty quickly. He moved out after a month or two, and my relationship with him further deteriorated. His visitation was one night a week, and one weekend a month. I don’t know the full story, if he and my mom fought over custody or not. But it just felt like he wanted separated from the family, including me. This further harmed our relationship.
The next few years went by quickly. He went through some very difficult person times, again another story! I feel bad because I did not support him during these times. I was still angry and bitter about having the only stable thing in my life (my parents marriage) ripped away from him. I blamed him for not involving himself in my life. Little did I recognize that it was a two way street – I wasn’t making an effort to include him or open up to him. Again, another story; this post has gone on long enough.
What’s the bottom line? Even though I didn’t have a strong relationship with my dad he taught me important life lessons. He taught me that people can change for the better. If we’d had a strong relationship, maybe he could have taught me more. We’re both to blame for our lack of a strong bond. We are working together now to become more.
Dad taught me how to work hard, how to support your family, even when times are extraordinarily difficult. He taught me of the importance of working hard to have a bond with my children. He taught me to swallow my pride and admit when I’ve made a mistake, and to do my best to make up for it.
How is your relationship with your father?