June 17th, 2018
I originally wrote the following 3 years ago, a month and half from Ellie’s 1st birthday.
On this Father’s Day, my heart is heavy for a multitude of reasons. Reading and seeing the separation of fathers from their children across this country and around the world is devastating. The wounds from my father’s passing is still raw and fresh since the 31st. The wounds are slowly turning into scabs, that one day will be scsrs. Finally, my heaviness is not only from grief, but awarness of my own role as the daddy to my girls. When they were born I chose to be actively involved in their molding and shaping. It is equally tiring and rewarding. Every moment of every day, I continue to strive not to be a perfect dad, but be the dad my daughters need.
(Written and posted June 25, 2015)
On Monday, I celebrated my 3rd Father’s Day since I got married on a wet and cold February in 2013. The first celebration came after we were married for a couple of short months, when we found out we were going to be parents. Our celebration was short-lived as we mourned the loss of our baby a week later. The second time was last summer, as we awaited with elation, uncertainty, and anticipation for the arrival of Elinor Sadie in 8 weeks. Finally, yesterday’s celebration began with my daughter “handing” me a SuperDad tshirt and ended with her saying Dada as we were cuddling before bed. All day on social media I read friends and acquaintances alike share memories of their fathers, while posting pictures and tributes to the men they call dad.
I didn’t .
No, it wasn’t because my dad doesn’t have a Facebook account or I don’t celebrate holidays. Father’s Day is a holiday that is hard to celebrate and I dread it every year. When I see commercials with the dad being portrayed as a mindless and aloof buffoon or my friend’s dad is spoken of like he is a superhero who can do no wrong, my heart is filled with an assortment of emotions from jealousy to frustration. No dad is perfect but for one day it seems like he is. Don’t misunderstand me, I understand and affirm the importance of having a father in your life. I have read the articles talking about how the involvement of a father is crucial to the life of his child. If I’m being honest, my pain lies with my own dysfunctional relationship with my father.
When I think of what a father means to me, I think of my father. His broken promises. His choice to not eat dinner with us. His refusal to show affection. His profanity-filled outbursts. His struggles with alcoholism and mental illness. Somehow in the midst of all the brokenness, nights crying myself to sleep, and playing catch alone, I knew deep down inside that I wanted to be the daddy I didn’t have.
In the movie Hook, an adult Peter Pan is struggling to find his “happy thought” until he remembers that his happy thought was being a father. I don’t remember when I saw this movie, but when this heartwarming scene took place it brought me to tears. Now, each time I see this movie I get choked up and cry like I did all of those years ago.
Now, as we are coming up to my daughter’s first birthday in August, I am reminded of my own father. I wonder if he looked at us children with awe and amazement when we were crawling on the floor or got excited when we were growing our first teeth like I do. Did he wipe away our tears when we fell on our bottoms after trying to walk for the thousandth time like I do? Did his heart break too when our only way of communicating was through screams? As I wonder “what if,” I’m brought back down to reality as I am reminded of the wounds and scars he inflicted on us. It is difficult to say that I am grateful and love him, but I am reminded of the other person who made me the man I am today.
My mama. She saw very early on that I needed positive male role models and sought them out for me. There have been numerous men who have taught me the lessons my dad didn’t. They taught me what it means to be a man of character and faith. The importance of leading others through serving. To strive to be a peaceful and meek man. And many more traits. Not only did my mama instill in me to seek-out men who were godly or were worth looking up, she taught me to see God as my father who would never leave nor forsake.
Father’s Day is a difficult holiday to celebrate, but I am grateful that God is restoring the years of pain and hurt that I have received from my father. Each night before baby girl goes to bed, I remind her of these truths: “I love you. No matter what. Always.” I believe this is what my heavenly Father tells me as he washes away the dirt and salt from my cuts and scars. His healing is an ongoing process, but God provides exactly what I need in order to become the father he wants me to be. Of course, I have and will make mistakes but I am becoming the daddy I never had. And also through the wisdom and instruction of others, I am becoming the man that my family needs.