Is it a sex blog? A mommy blog? A bitch & moan blog? Um, . . . yeah. This is my place to be totally honest. In my real life, I feel like I'm always lying to somebody about something. Here, I am totally honest. Brutally so. However, no matter what bad things I say about my kids, I adore them and would never ever really, say, sell them on Ebay. The husband, often referred to as Spousehole, is another story. Oh yeah - if you are under 18 (or if you are my husband), please leave now.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!!

Today is Father's Day in the U.S., a day when we honor the men who take care of us, teach us, and love us, without question. Providing DNA does not make a man a father. Being a father is making the choice to put a child's needs ahead of your own. So many children do not have a father or significant father-figure in their lives and that breaks my heart. I've been one of the lucky ones. I have the most wonderful father - ever. I am a Daddy's Girl and everyone who knows my Dad understands why.

I read recently that young people today think that their fathers do not measure up to TV dads. That is so very sad. If you feel your father doesn't measure up to Homer Simpson, I feel terribly sorry for you. You really don't know what you are missing. My dad makes Cliff Huxtable look like a slacker.

My parents have two biological children - me and my younger sister. But my dad has served as a father figure to many more children. He was an accountant, so it wasn't part of his job or anything. He just is a natural dad - a nurturing, loving man who wants the best for "his" kids, whether biological, foster, or employees of my parents' ice cream shop. I know of at least 8 children named after my Dad (first or middle name) and only 3 are related.

My parents made the decision when I was in elementary school to become foster parents. Having two young daughters at home already, they chose to only foster teen girls. Many of the girls who stayed with us were only there a short time, a transitional placement. But one stayed with us for several years, until she aged out of the foster system. Thirty years later, she remains a part of our family. She visited us recently with one of her own children. She tried to explain to my husband and her son why my Dad is her hero. She said that he was the first person who ever cared for her unselfishly. He wanted nothing but her safety and happiness. My parents took her into their home and treated her as family from day one. It wasn't just the material things, although my parents did buy her a car, helped her pay for her first apartment, and other things. It was that they loved her and cared for her and expected nothing in return. They might be disappointed in choices she made, but they didn't judge and continued loving her no matter what.

I know what she means about that. I adore my Daddy because he has high expectations, but doesn't judge if you fail to meet those expectations. I know that whatever mistakes I make, and I make a lot of them, my Dad will always be there for me. He may be disappointed in my choice, but he always supports, defends, and loves me. I am nearly 40 years old and my Dad still wants to take care of me. His biggest concerns remain his girls and their children.

When I was a child, there were at least two times that my father turned down jobs because being with his family regularly was more important to him than money or prestige. He didn't want to be an absentee parent. His father died when he was 6 and his mother had abandoned the family several years before that. He and his older siblings who were not yet on their own ended up in an orphanage. Dad lived in the orphanage until he graduated from high school and joined the Air Force. He wanted us to have what he didn't: a real home with loving parents. When I was born in 1967, many dads took a hands-off approach to parenting, especially with infant girls. My mom says her friends were incredibly jealous because Dad changed diapers, fed babies, walked the floor at night with crying babies, cleaned the house, and generally shared everything. In an orphanage, everyone helps with everything, regardless of gender, so Dad had learned that you do what's necessary for your household. And even as a newborn, I preferred Daddy. He was the only one who could quiet me when I had colic. As I got older, the highlight of my day was when Daddy came home from work. In elementary school, Daddy did my hair before school, fed me breakfast, and drove me to school. Weekend mornings, Dad took us girls out for breakfast and gave my mom some quiet time. When I was 15, Dad bought me a 1967 Mustang and we spend the next year restoring the car so it was ready to go the day I turned 16. It only had 37,000 miles, but the body had rusted badly in places. That was one of the best times of my life, restoring that car with my Dad. I learned to cut and rivet sheet metal, bleed brakes, change oil, and all kinds of other useful skills. But I was with my Dad - that was the most important thing.

Dad is my nephew's main male role model/father figure. My husband helps out, but we live 45 minutes away. Dad is there every single day. He goes to my sister's house at 5:00 a.m. My sister showers and gets ready for work, knowing that if her son wakes up Grandpa will take care of him. She leaves for work by 6:00 a.m. Dad is the one who gets Bam-Bam up, feeds him breakfast, dresses him, and takes him to school. Every single weekday. On weekends, Dad is over there too, bringing breakfast for my sister and Bam-Bam and doing chores around her house (mowing, scoop the cat boxes, minor household repairs, etc.). As a single mom, my sister knows that her life would be a whole lot more difficult without Daddy helping her.

In the 1980s, my parents owned an ice cream shop. The kids who worked there became part of our family too. 18 years after my parents sold the shop, most of the former employees keep in contact with my parents. Whenever I see a former employee, they invariably tell me how much they love my parents and about all the intangible things they learned from them. Most say some variation of "I'm a better person for knowing your parents." My mom and dad refused to use cash registers and calculators were available as a last resort only. You had to know your math to work there and if you didn't, they tutored you. My parents taught the kids to speak proper English and use good manners with the customers and each other. Dad was sometimes the only father figure in some of the kids' lives. Several of the guys that worked for us still contact my father when they need advice or just someone to listen to them. Everyone always said how lucky my sister and I were to be have him as our Dad. They don't know the half of it.

Happy Father's Day to the real fathers out there. DNA alone does not make a father. Love is what makes a man into a father.


kate said...

I am glad you had a daddy. Mine died before my birth. I don't how to feel about this day. Thank you for sharing.

VJ said...

Well you know Bunny, This is a very loving post and proud tribute to your dad. But this is where the fires of hell finally reached you first. There's the great predictor of success in marriage & adult relationships, and it's having the good fortune to have loving parents who shared their love with their kids, and who provided a fine example for them as adults & parents. You had that in spades from your folks. Hubby lacked it in significant ways from his family.

For the next one, if there is one, check that out first. It's better to know first that crucial background than to suffer the torments of hell just knowing what heaven looks like in a good loving marriage & man. You dad is and was. Hubby may yet get there, but he's sorely lacking and dragging up the rear at the moment. And that's where the hell began. Cheers, 'VJ'