For the first time since becoming a father I am not looking forward to Father's Day. All of the fun stuff that I would normally want to do with my kids is now overshadowed by the knowledge that I will never get to do them with my dad again.
My dad passed away recently from cancer and it has completely wrecked me. I suffer from depression and anxiety on a normal day and then dealing with grief has just pushed them into hyper-drive (who knew depression had a flux capacitor?).
I never used to be sentimental about dates & anniversaries
Up until recently, I wasn't too sentimental about dates and anniversaries. Obviously I enjoy celebrating them, but I didn't so much care about how big of a celebration it was or on what day we celebrated (for example, if my birthday party wasn't on my actual birthday it was no big deal).
Well, in the wake of dad's passing I have discovered that, yes, I am very much a sentimental guy about dates and anniversaries. Mother's Day, my mom's birthday, and my dad's birthday came and went, not with a small thought or a whispered prayer, but with full on ugly crying in the middle of getting my kids ready for school.
No one is perfect - but dad came pretty damn close.
My dad wasn't perfect, no one is. But damn he was close. And since I can remember, I always looked up to him as this great bear of a man who bellowed thunder, hilarity, humility, and credulity like no other. I can still remember trying to walk in his shoes as a kid (and later stealing his boots as a teenager).
I keep asking myself: am I this guy to my kids? Am I living up to the memory of my dad in my own mind?
Am I being the same example to my kids as my dad was to me?
Am I teaching them all I need to about honour, morality, respect, and relationships?
Am I giving them enough instruction on the best ways to do things, on short cuts, and sound practice? Or am I giving too much of these things!?
Am I giving them the same attention my dad gave me!? I feel like I'm constantly telling them “Just a second, buddy, I have some work to do...”
I can remember in detail all the times dad played with me, but not so much about him telling me to "wait a second". I'm sure it happened - you can't work full time for the government, run your own business AND also have unlimited spare time to play Lego's with your kids.
I realize most people have this freak out when they are about to have kids, but I'm pretty dense, so it took me 6 years and the death of my dad to realize I may either be passing or failing at fatherhood.
I'm just so cognizant of how great my dad was... and maybe how I'm kinda not....
And yet, I can see this glimmer in my kids' eyes sometimes... a glimmer that I don't think I deserve, but nevertheless, it's there. It's a glimmer of excitement to be taking part in the things I do.
They have never seen Star Wars, but they love Star Wars because they know daddy likes it.
They are too scared to watch the latest iteration of the Ninja Turtles, but they love the Ninja Turtles because I have a toy Donatello in my office.
They want to do karate, and play music, and draw comics, and write stories because those are the things that drive me (and also because those things are awesome and of course my kids should want to do them)!
I have to release myself. I'll never be my dad to them, because I'm THEIR dad to them.
My job is not to give them the same childhood I had because, all similarities aside, I'm not my dad and they aren't me.
My job is to find out what their passions are and affirm them.
My job is to take care of them and take care of myself.
My job is to show them when to insist on a break from the world and when to fight through it.
My job is to show them that hard work and self discipline are the keys to unlocking their passions, their gifts and their calling.
My job is to show them what it means to be human, by accepting my limitations while never settling for my failures.
My job is to show them what a good marriage looks like, and what it means to live for others while just being yourself.
My job as their dad is to help them find themselves, where they've been, where they are, and where they want to go - and to be crazy proud of whoever they turn out to be.
That's what my dad did for me. I think that's a mold I can fit into.
Thank you to our guest blogger:
Husband, father of 3 sons, owner, artist and brains behind www.twoxtwostudios.com