This is such a hard blog for me to write. See, I have Dad issues.

Wow. I said it. Dad issues.

My Dad left when I was 6. He left me, and my Mom {pregnant} and that was that. That was when my world fell apart. I could say that after years of working through the childhood trauma {and everything else that followed}, that I got over it.

But I haven’t. I know I haven’t because I often fall into this pattern where I find myself trying to raise my children as if I were a single Mom. As if my husband weren’t involved. As if he weren’t responsible, reliable, or {let’s face it} around. As if he were my Dad, actually.

See, this is what we do.

We relive patterns.

We relive them in our reactions to stress, and we relive them in the way we relate to others more generally. Sure I had my abandoned daughter journey.

  • Step one for me was yelling at my Dad {my teens and twenties}
  • Step two was forgiving my Dad {my thirties}

And with those two steps came resolution with HIM. I thought that was it.

But apparently, it isn’t, because while I’ll always be a daughter to my parents I am not that little girl anymore.

Today {closer to the end of that journey} I get that my Dad still loved me, that he was wounded himself, that he didn’t know how to be a good father.

That on his death bed, he wished he had done differently, that he regretted his choice to leave us, and that ultimately, it was this regret, this pain, that killed him.

I get that now, but of course, as I little girl, I didn’t.

Today I am a mother.

In a relationship with a man, a loyal, responsible, reliable, wants-to-be-involved-parent, good man.

Sure, he has his flaws {don’t we all!} but, he isn’t my father, and I’m not that little girl.

So, what is my step three?

Step three is stepping out of this little girl fear and changing the dance.

It is about noticing what lies at the root of my man-related freak-outs, observing, asking whether my reaction to him my relationship within the family comes from a place of little girl fear.

It is about forgiving myself when I’m a nasty wife and housemate and about forgiving my man for not being that T.V. sit-com Dad I thought everybody but me had, as a kid.

It is about getting to know this man and sharing myself, my vulnerabilities and this crazy parenting journey with him. and it is about celebrating the good in him. Because there is so much good.

Next to mothering, doing this adult relationship thing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, nobody taught me how to be a good life partner, how to share the parenting. I’m learning on the job.

And so today, on Father’s Day, I write to thank him for putting up with…

The self-righteousness

The my-way-or-the-highway’ness

The I’m-a-better parent, person, cook, cleaner, folder, etc…

The I-do-more-than-you {which, to be honest, I do…but maybe I don’t need to remind him so much}

And to show gratitude for all that he is and all that he does.

For helping me to make my dreams come true.

For being different from me

Balancing me out

Keeping me real.

Sure, there’s the housework and the parenting {the I-want-to-be-involved imperfect parenting attempts I so struggle with} that I say “thank you” to, but really it’s his saying: “I understand” and holding my hand when life is just too hard.

And his holding that hand and accepting me – frightened little girl, indignant self-righteous woman – as I am, warts and all, for holding my hand as we try our best, trip and fall, fight and make-up, learn along the way.

When I was little I didn’t know what to make of Father’s Day. I’d make a card because I was supposed to because, perhaps, I thought it would bring him back. My father would cry when I gave it to him.

So today I work to step out of that heavy place. I hold in my heart the intention to create a day and ritual that celebrates what must be a whole new terrain for many men {and women} – the messy I-want-to-be-an-involved parent terrain.

Happy Father’s Day.

I love you both.

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