Obviously after pouring through all these wonderfully uplifting, occasionally painful father stories over the past week, I was able to reflect both on my own father and what kind of father I want to be to my two sons.
My father and I did not whittle on the front porch of our farmhouse growing up. We did not have deep, meaningful conversations intermittently interrupted by the smack of a hardball hitting our gloves during lazy afternoons playing catch.
My father is difficult to describe, not a paintable picture, nor a round peg in a square hole. My relationship with him now is rooted in a history of ignorance by choice. He would admit some gaps in parenting were rooted in his own selfish behaviour. I admit to completely eliminating these parental gaps from my own memory to focus on the times his influence was asked for and provided. Did I miss him growing up? Probably, but his absenteeism was never too extended and while going through his own personal struggles made it easy to forget about his kids, his sometimes stoic and occasionally (and wonderful) sense of mirth usually made it easy to forgive and forget, in that order.
I am my father’s son; there is no doubt about it. We look alike, our mannerisms are the same and my increasing frustration at the cost of parking and the lack of customer service in this world remind me of his outlandish exasperation growing up. I would cower in the back seat of the car as he lambasted the poor attendant asking for 12 dollars for 20 minutes of downtown parking. I think it was parking that drove my father from being a city person to the cottage and gated community person he is today.
I love him fiercely. I love his faults as much as I do his many spectacular qualities. Do I want be like him? Not really. Injected with the sensitivity of my mother has allowed me to recognize some of the misogynistic qualities I share with my dad and try to correct them, or let them at least lie dormant until I don’t care anymore. I have his charm, which both me and the hundreds of women I have used it on should be just a tiny bit grateful. I am just grateful for the one woman it really worked on 15 years and 15 minutes ago.
So what did I learn about being a father from my dad? I learned how just being there, having a presence in my son’s life is vastly important. And I learned this from the times he was there as much as the times he wasn’t. I learned that even though I was real shitty kid that my dad still loved the hell out of me, and when he was focused on me as a project, he took steps to yank me from the muck, clean me up and kick my ass back into the fray. Sure he was squinting while doing this, but I always thought it was because his heart hurt so much.
I am more attentive as a father now because I am afraid I won’t be later on. I am engaged and involved. I surround my boys with as much love as I know how to give. I thank my profession a bit because I take pride in my ability to communicate. And by communicating, I mean listening, not listening to myself talk. My boys come to me with all their ruthless and inane problems. Some are knee skins and some are why do my friends hate me so much. I listen, peppering their stories with suggestions, not solutions. I let them know I am human, flawed, stupid, but I make sure they know how important it is to have values you believe in. Honesty, integrity, kindness, loyalty, brevity – make all decisions based on these tenets and it’s difficult to go wrong. They will make bad choices, but hopefully they will be limited and the consequences not so severe.
And for that, and my love of scotch (and basketball), I thank him.
And I I thank you so much for all the wonderful entries for the BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK OS 2.0.
They all were beautiful in their own way.
The randomly selected winner from all the entries was from Danielle from Surrey, British Columbia.