Just in time for Father's Day, I have the pleasure today of introducing my Dad's writing into the blogging fray. I'm so happy he wanted to Guest Post for us here as he is something else. Enjoy!
Father’s Day is in the offing, which always makes me think about my good fortune in being a dad along with my many screw-ups in the challenging process of fathering. It has been said that we have better books on how to cook pasta (or anything for that matter), than we have on parenting in this world. I would certainly see it that way. Being a father is a messy combination of what was modeled by dads gone by, gut level instincts and a lot of trial and error. I am so happy about the latter one, as my early fathering experience, like so many in my generation, included lots of trials and multiple errors.
Let’s back up a bit for some perspective. I’m an only child, a front edge “baby boomer” having grown up in the 50’s and early 60’s. My fathering role models were dubious, but typical for the period. My dad was a WWII disabled vet (a true hero really) who never was able to cope with life following the war, turned to alcohol to blur the anguish, withdrew from those he loved and ended up being divorced by my mother following lots of marital strife. His relationship with me was detached, sometimes antagonistic and devoid of anything approaching expressed affection. I honestly can’t recall him ever saying that he loved me. So typical of what Tom Brokaw refers to as “the greatest generation”. My mother then married a man, also of the same generation who was quite successful in business. During my teen years, he was married to “the job” and lived to work. Although I learned about the importance of working hard to provide a good “American dream” life, I didn't learn squat about what it took to be a truly loving dad.
Well, skip forward to graduating college, getting married in ’71, and having two extraordinary (despite my many mistakes) children: Katy in ‘73 and Andy in ’76. My fathering process during my children’s early, teenage and young adult years was to do what I believed was what all good dads do…be a good provider, travel for the job, put in long hours on the success treadmill, have cool material possessions, take nice vacations, and work extremely hard to ensure that it all continued. It all went so quickly, and I crashed into the reality of Katy’s alcoholism, confronted with the truth that as a father I had been emotionally unavailable to both of my children during the time when they needed me to be there for them both physically and emotionally. I was paying the bills and paying the price.
Well, thankfully, none of us is stuck with what got us here. We are capable of figuring it out and getting a second chance. In the last twelve to fifteen years, give or take, I’ve refocused my fathering to express my emotions to my children, hug them more, express love and devotion and be there for them even though they are all grown up now with children of their own. Barb and I are blessed with six beautiful and exceptional grandchildren (Katy with her twins and Andy with two boys and two girls). My two children, and their spouses Chris and Julie are already great parents and doing well with life. Words are inadequate when it comes to describing how proud I am of Katy and Andy and how much I love being their dad. And you know what; I think I’m a pretty good grandfather, one who is thankful for second chances. Happy Father’s Day!
After you dry your eyes, Please take a moment to read this piece that I wrote about my Dad a couple years ago. He's everything to me. Happy Father's Day!
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