I Love You, Dad
Fatherhood Friday is all about celebrating what being a dad is. I love being a dad and love celebrating everything about it (and giving myself the occasional pat on my awesome back), but I wanted to take a slightly different direction for this Fatherhood Friday. You see, before I was a dad, I was a son. And before I was a son, I was a glimmer in my dad’s eye; a soldier in his scro…you get the idea. Ugh. I think I just made myself vomit in my mouth a little bit. Where was I? Oh right. Today, I’m celebrating my dad.
Sadly, I didn’t always celebrate my dad. I loved my dad but hated some things about him growing up. Now as an adult, the word hate seems so strong, but that was the word I’d use when I was a pimple-poppin, baggy-jean-wearin, trying-too-hard-to-impress-others teen. Being an immigrant family, I hated how I had to translate for him. Hated how he had to work all the time – 12 hour days, 6 days a week and sometimes Sundays. Hated that he could never come watch any of my games – sure, my biggest accomplishment was probably not getting a splinter from the bench, but still. Hated how he never said I love you or gave me a hug, especially when Danny Tanner seemed to say it all the time. Hated how he never said I’m proud of you or showed any emotion towards me, other than anger: maybe it was different in your household, but I know I done really screwed up when my dad had to discipline me.
I don’t know when exactly it hit me, but I finally realized my dad was great and that he always did his best. And he did it with very little. When he had questions, he couldn’t crowdsource on Twitter. He couldn’t buy a book on parenting and get it shipped to his house in 2 days or download it on an eReader. He didn’t have an iPhone to read product reviews to ensure he was getting us the best product at the best price. He couldn’t share pictures of the fish I caught or our family on vacation on Facebook and have friends comment on them. He didn’t have a community like Dad Blogs or Dads Talking to look to for moral support or a simple diversion when his punk son was becoming too much. But he did his best.
I could go on and on about how he left the comfort of living in a country where he knew the language and customs for the sake of his kids, or how he saved up what little money we had to take us on family vacations, or other selfless things for the sake of his family, but suffice it to say, as an adult, I grew to respect my dad and love him even more.
And yet, I still didn’t treat him right. It’s shameful, but I admit I felt like I was better than my dad. After all, I had more education, I made more money, and I was “better” with my kids – whatever that means. I had every right to feel that way, right?
Worst part is, my snobbery was affecting the way I was speaking to and treating him. After my daughter was born, I saw that my dad adored her and as she grew up, she in turn adored him. My wife, who over the course of our marriage always had to remind me to treat my parents better, said that how I treat my parents will probably be how my daughters treat me when they get older. After all, they’ll likely have more education, make more money, and will be “better” with their kids. They have every right to feel that way, right?
The more I think about it, the more I realize my dad and I are similar. We’re both dads who are trying to navigate the highs and lows of life. To overcome obstacles and challenges that come. To love our wives the best way we know how. To create opportunities and experiences for our children that they’ll treasure. To love people well and to make an impact on those around us. We’re not perfect but we’re both dads who are trying to do our best.
And being the best dad I can be is all I can hope for. So thanks dad. You gave up so much for me. You helped make me who I am today. If I’m half the father you were and are, I know I’ll have done well. I know you won’t say it back, but your selfless love means the world to me. I love you.