Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers are from Mars

Well, it's Father's Day, and I have been trying for weeks to decide what it is I want to write about, but there's just been so much in my head lately and I've had a hard time nailing down exactly what I want to say. The thing is, I love my own dad (formerly known as "Diddy," although that has now been replaced by "Day-Day" or "Papa Scrooge," depending on which grandchild you ask) and I'm so proud of Shep for being the man that he is, and doing the things that he does... But there's just something else nagging at the back of my brain that I cannot shake...

And it's their faults. It's where they struggle. It's what irritates me...

No, this isn't man-bashing, I swear. (I do that every other day of the year.) This is about recognition and acceptance.

I grew up idolizing my father. Yes, he was a huge embarrassment to me through many of my teenage years, but he was always, ALWAYS, there, and he was always gentle, kind, and patient. When I think of him, I think of how he always treats everyone the same and never meets a stranger... I think of his hearty laugh; and his tacky one-liners and groan-inducing jokes. The man has a funny story about EVERYTHING and has a gift of finding humor in any situation.

He's always called me Jane (since apparently when my mother asked him what he wanted to name me because "his input was very important," he said "Jane" and she said "no") and he tells me several times a year that Mom used to always ask him when he was ready for children, and his reply was, and still is, "I'm not ready for children."

No matter what, I've always been Daddy's little girl, and he's always loved me unconditionally.

Even when I told his company from out of town that our bulldog "licks his balls a lot."
It was true, I saw it. And Boozer was not the least embarrassed about his self-grooming, so I didn't see why anyone else should be.

Even when I announced to a restaurant that "MY DADDY WEARS BIG UNDERWEAR!"
Also true, I helped Mom fold them, and I thought that made excellent dinner conversation.

Even when I complained to my Granddaddy that "My daddy beats me."
False, I just wanted cookies. Granddaddy complied.

Up until I was about 18 or so, even though I found my dad completely annoying and a little scary sometimes, I knew, just knew, he was perfect. I wanted to be him when I grew up, and maybe even marry a man just like him.

But then I became an adult, too. And then it hit me... My daddy wasn't perfect after all.

Ouch.

He had faults, and weaknesses, and flaws... Just like everyone else. I wasn't prepared for that. I thought fathers were supposed to be the infallible, unflappable heads of the family; the ones who always made the right decisions, kept everyone safe, did the right thing, and knew all the answers.

And all of a sudden maybe I didn't want to marry someone just like him. I wanted to marry a "perfect" man.

(Please, hold the laughter.)

When I did get married, I was under no delusions that Shep was perfect. I did, however, see him as a man with many, many wonderful qualities, and just a few areas I thought I could improve upon. You know, he had "perfect" potential.

Turns out I'm not so good at teaching old dogs new tricks.

He's impatient. He's egocentric. He has a bad temper. He's a spender. He's completely unable to find anything, ever, even if I tell him exactly where it is. And I could be smack-dab in the middle of a stomach flu, bent over the toilet puking my guts out, and he could still be like, "Hey baby, you look so sexy like that. Do you mind if I..." (Sorry, Dad, if you're reading this...)

And then, as a father himself, he's had a hard time dealing with the crying and the pooping and the whining and the puking... And the machines and the alarms and the appointments and the medicines...

He's said more than once, "Why don't they just TALK?! I'll deal with them when they can TALK!!"

And, I'll admit, there have been times that I've sat and pouted, drowning myself in just how imperfect he is.

But here's the thing.

He, like my own dad, is always, ALWAYS, there. He would lay down his life and everything he is and has to protect his family. He always tries, and always puts his family first. He loves his family with every ounce of everything he's got, and he's so proud of the little miniature versions of himself that have turned his world completely upside down.

And he tolerates ME.

Besides, if I'm honest with myself, I can admit that maybe I'm not that perfect, either.

Maybe I'm a product of two imperfect (sorry, Mom) adults, who loved each other enough to pull together through the crap life threw at them and raise their children the best they knew how. Maybe I am now my own parents, for better or for worse, and maybe Shep is also the product of two imperfect adults who also loved each other enough to pull together through the crap life threw at them and raise their children the best they knew how, too.

And maybe, if you look closely enough, there's beauty in the imperfections.

Maybe it's God's intent for each generation to become the upgraded version of their own parents... (Fail as we might.) To be all the good things our parents are, and, by a beautiful example of reincarnation, try to improve upon the flaws by just a little. Maybe our own children become our only real chance at redemption here on Earth.

And maybe, when we see our children's flaws, we're just looking at our own mistakes not yet improved.

And maybe, when I see the flaws of the men in my life, they aren't just flaws. Maybe, just maybe, they're just what I need to make myself into a better person.

I'm very thankful to have honorable, honest, good men in my life. Without these imperfect, frustrating men, my life would be empty and... different.

But my life is full, and good.

And I will take my own flaws and try every day to improve them, and I will try not to beat my children when they act just like me.

I AM my father, and Shep IS his father. My children are me, and are them. We are all every mistake and every achievement, every blessing and every curse of our parents and their parents before them.

And, once you get past the obvious, that can be a really good thing.

I think once we let go of our preconceived notions of perfection, maybe then we can recognize and appreciate the beauty hidden behind those imperfections.

Because, you know, as fathers go, I couldn't imagine any more perfect than the two I love the most... warts and all.

1 comment:

Martha said...

You blew my cover! HAHAHAHA! And how long did it take you to figure out I wasn't perfect?