Home > Fatherhood Friday > I Love You, Dad

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.

  1. August 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

    This is EXACTLY how I feel about my dad!!! Was it a cultural difference? Like you, my family immigrated here. All of a sudden I was growing up in a Westernized community with Old School parents. Maybe he was so strict because he had double standards. Here I am, a girl, a daughter. I was the weaker of the genders. Now looking back, I realize he did it because he loves me. It just took years and years to realize it.

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

      I think the cultural difference has a profound impact. I’m sure things would have been different had I been raised in Korea. Not necessarily better, just different.

  2. August 20, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Great blog. Very wise words here! It takes a lot to realize what you have, even with help from your wife. (Who sounds very wise herself, BTW.) I was raised with a mother incapable of showing love and to this day has never hugged me or told me she loves me. My father was more king & loving but also did not do these things and it didn’t bother me until I saw my friend’s parents doing and saying it. But I never doubted their love for me because it was obvious that everything they did was for our (me and my sisters) benefit. I learned to accept the way Mom is and we have a pretty good relationship now. I’m glad you are setting a good example for your daughters. 🙂

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

      Yeah. If it wasn’t for Danny Tanner and other TV dads, I’d have never known.

  3. August 20, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Really good post. The Danny Tanner part made me laugh, and everything else was really perfect. I was kind of the opposite – when I was young, I thought my parents, my dad especially, were perfect, all knowing, really cool, and never made mistakes. It took having my own kids to realize that he wasn’t perfect, and that I didn’t have to be just like him, or my mom, to do a good job with my kids.

    Parenting is such a tricky business.

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      It really is, which is why I’m thankful for all the different resources we have as parents today. Though the amount of info can be a bit overwhelming at times.

  4. August 20, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I honestly don’t the we can comprehend our parents’ lives, and the love they have for us, until we become parents ourselves. We may try to wrap our heads around it, but the real growth comes when our own small, needy people smile up at us, expecting us to provide for their every need.

    Lovely post!

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm

      It’s true. My perspective changed so much when my daughter was born. And even more when I saw my dad interacting with his granddaughter.

  5. Fenny
    August 20, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I seriously just teared up. You totally captured my bizarre relationship with my parents. Dammit…I need to call them now (they are working – probably another 12hr day) to tell them I love them. Even as they will wonder what trouble I just got into to prompt such a call…

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      Haha. It’s true. When I call my dad or mom just to say I love you, they go, “Uhhhh…and???”

  6. August 20, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    You can make me laugh AND cry. Geez man – who needs a rollercoaster when I can come here (for free)? 🙂

    You’ve summed up my feelings about my mom. My relationship with THE DAD is a little complicated. One that I can’t express yet even on this week of truths for me.

    So glad we’re both able to look past the “uncoolness” of our parents and see them for who they really are: Imperfect people trying to do the best they can – just like us.

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      “One that I can’t express yet even on this week of truths for me.” Considering how passionate and eloquent your writing was this week, I can’t even begin to imagine. And he may not be perfect, but he’s my dad, and that’s all I could ask for. I hope my daughter’s feel the same way about me when they get older.

  7. August 20, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    What a heartfelt post! Thanks for writing this, Twin! I also hope that you’ll feel comfortable telling your Dad about some of the things that you love and respect about him. Even if he doesn’t respond to you, I bet that it would mean a lot to him. xoxo

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm

      haha. Indeed. I know it means a lot to him, but he’s a tough guy and can’t/doesn’t want to show it.

  8. stephen yang
    August 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    argh i am totally crying right now

  9. August 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    To this day I feel guilty about how I treated my dad during my teen years. Lovely post!

  10. August 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Have you ever considered publishing these blog posts as a book at some point? These posts are some of the most interesting, well-written and captivating writing I’ve seen in ages! I don’t know, something like “The Wit and Wisdom of a Father” or something similar. You should really consider it!

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Jason. Coming from an excellent writer like yourself, that means a lot. I’ve never really given that much thought but maybe I will.

  11. August 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I’m with Jason above. NOT ENOUGH reading material for men, by men. It’s all women telling men how to be.

    Absolutely to Jason’s idea. Think about it.

    • Pop
      August 20, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      Wow. Thanks, Empress. I’ll think about it!

  12. TK
    August 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I love this post and I’m sure you know why.

    I think the most difficult stage of a parent-child relationship is when the children become adults. Suddenly it’s easy to think well I (the child) am so much better than my parent because of A, B and C. But we all have our different strengths and weaknesses. We are all striving to do our best.

    My two cents is this; Do whatever is necessary to make your relationship with your parents the best it can be. Attend to and bury old hurts and stupid grudges. Don’t dwell on the past and work on the present. Trite as it may sound it’s the best advice I can give. You never know when you are going to loose that opportunity to work on your relationship with your parents altogether.

    • Pop
      August 23, 2010 at 9:44 am

      Thanks for your comment, TK! And what you’re going through now was a big reminder not to put off letting my parents know I love them until tomorrow.

  13. August 20, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    This is a fantastic post. I think at times Ive had the same views of my own folks – focusing more on their mistakes than their successes, or talking down to them, as you said. They are such humble people and don’t deserve it.

    it’s great that you’ve come to a place of acceptance and peace.

    Good job Pop.

    • Pop
      August 23, 2010 at 9:45 am

      Thanks, Gigi. And you’re absolutely right – they deserve better. And so do I when I’m old too 😛

  14. August 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Yours is, I think the third dad-inspired, dad-viewpoint type of blog in my blogroll. And there’s a very good reason you’re there – your writing is compelling. So much so that even I had to pay attention to it, even if I couldn’t relate in any way to my father the way you’ve managed to with yours. (Long story, and rather harsh, so I won’t discuss it here).

    Anyway, you are one of four bloggers that I discussed today. You are totally deserving of a higher number of readers, just for the pure joy of being able to relate so much about fatherhood. Cheers!

    • Pop
      August 23, 2010 at 9:46 am

      Wow. Thanks for the kind words, wolfshades!

  15. August 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Brilliant post man. Absolutely brilliant. I think all of us have had that ah-ha moment where we totally got it. My father can be frustrating but there is no denying his love for his kids.

    • Pop
      August 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

      Agreed. I’m glad I had my ah-ha moment sooner rather than later. In fact, after becoming a father, I think I have ah-ha moments much more regularly.

  16. August 21, 2010 at 1:19 am

    Awww…I’m so moved by this. Seriously. I had a terrific father. He passed away 15 years ago, but not one single days goes by that I’m not grateful for the father I had. You are a brilliant father and you will only reap rewards from this! Your writing is so enjoyable!

    • Pop
      August 23, 2010 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Sandra. My hope is that my daughters will say that about me when I’m long gone. 🙂

  17. August 21, 2010 at 4:16 am

    This was one of the best reads I have enjoyed yet! If we all continue to remind ourselves that one day our children will remember even the smallest of things then we can strive harder to be a better man. BRAVO to you!

    • Pop
      August 23, 2010 at 9:50 am

      Thanks, Dr. Shawn. You’re absolutely right. I’m still pretty early in the fatherhood gig, but the fact that I appreciate and acknowledge all my dad did for me encourages me to do the same for my kids.

  18. August 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Loved this. I grew up without a father (well, technically I KNOW him, but he’s not a father), so my mom and sister and I were it. And my mom and I? REALLY didnt get along when I was a teenager. She expressed a lot of love, but we argued a lot. I remember thinking I couldn’t wait until I got out of her house. But now (many years later), we are best friends. Seriously, best friends.

    Mostly because I grew up and saw the many sacrifices she made for our family and how hard it mustve been to be a single mom with a crazy ex-husband.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Pop
      August 23, 2010 at 9:55 am

      “She expressed a lot of love, but we argued a lot.” I get the feeling my daughters and I will have the same dynamic, esp. when it comes to boys. After all, I nearly thought of naming them Chastity, Virginity or My Daddys Knows Karate.

  19. August 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I love this post. I lost my Dad when I was a teen and now that I am a Mom I so appreciate what he did for me. I just wish he was around for me to tell him that.
    Thanks for stopping by Friday Flip-Offs, so nice to have a man pop in. Have a great weekend!

  20. August 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Beautifully written post. Sigh. My dad hasn’t really had what you call a ‘great’ relationship with me and my siblings. He has major faults (don’t we all?) that we have learned to live with and forgive. We DO love him, but wish he could be more open and honest with us.

    I appreciate my husband a lot because of this – he strives to be the kind of father his child will be proud of. 🙂

  1. January 31, 2011 at 2:53 am

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