Father's Day is coming up.
I always think of my father on Father's Day, and I sigh. He was a nice, smart guy. It's unfortunate that he could never get his life together. I have a lot of good memories with him, and most of them also have some sort of addendum that takes out the good part of the memory.
I remember all those fun dinners out he would take me to...at various bars.
He took me to a fun circus, but we ran out of gas on the way there so we missed most of it.
He took me to the library, but then he went to the bar and forgot about me for hours.
We had a great time at the amusement park until he accidentally burnt me with his cigarette.
I loved playing video poker in his lap at the bar.
He left after dinner to get me a strawberry pie, but brought it home after 2am and woke me up to eat it.
We would have fun playing Monopoly until I caught him cheating.
He sent me checks for my birthday...that would bounce.
I was raised by mom, but I visited my dad and grandparents for a couple of weeks each summer on the east coast. My dad couldn't ever get it together enough to move out of his parents' house after he and my mom divorced. Or own a car without it being repossessed. Or keep a job.
I've never been angry with him. Rather, I became resigned after the initial years of disappointment when he rarely followed through on the things he said he'd do. That was just who he was. I could choose to be bitter, or I could learn from it. I chose to learn from him--i.e., what NOT to do. At the same time, he was quite charming and had several redeeming qualities, like he was the fun guy who told jokes. It was hard to see beyond the bottom part of Maslow's hierarchy of needs when he was always on the precipice of disaster though.
It is interesting that when I started dating, I mainly focused on guys who seemed very different from my dad. With one or two exceptions, most were far more pulled together than my dad ever was. My husband is just amazing -- wicked smart and generous and thoughtful and emotionally strong. He is the best father that a little girl could have.
My father, while he had some really good qualities, wasn't the ideal father that read you stories when he tucked you in at night. He was the person who would eat Twinkies while watching bad TV until 3am and didn't realize that kids needed bedtimes, so I'd be sitting with him until he decided that it was his bedtime. I'd say it was laissez faire parenting, but it wasn't really even that. It was absolutely no structure or parenting.
What elates me is that my daughter has a dad who is that idealistic dad. Sure, she may still end up screwed up, but having a dad who loves her and is an excellent role model sets the stage for her to have a really good life.
However, she won't have those cool stories about playing video poker and drinking Shirley Temples at the bar when she was 5 years old.