For the longest time, I’ve said my parents did the best they could with who they were at the time and with what they had to work with. I felt that excused poor choices and bad behavior, because they were human and growing up as individuals themselves and neither of them had stellar examples of how to parent. Well nothing is perfect and no one is perfect and blah, blah, blah… At one point, I made a point to forgive my father for the things I didn’t like about him and his choices and to write him a letter telling him how much I appreciated all he had done for me.
One of the wonderful things about not dying young is the chance we have to continue to learn, morph and improve ourselves. Because for all my father’s alleged poor choices and bad behavior, I drew him for a father in this life and perhaps he was the perfect authority figure for me to learn a thing or 3, (as Dad used to say), and perhaps his crap was really about my crap. So I can look at the things he did and said that gave me stress and check myself for how I believe, act and talk to others.
If, as I also believe, each generation should be better than the last, then I should learn from Dad, be a better parent and human and move on with life. The thing is, people thought we had the perfect family. We didn’t. We had the perfect looking from the outside in family, but it was a life of deception. Like many families. What you saw was not what we, on the inside, got. So what did I do as an adult? Recreated a very similar scenario with my own children, whom I love dearly. Not knowing any better and being well programmed, a duality existed in my home, too.
I seriously love all my children. I felt I did the best I could with who I was and what I had to work with, but I had a dictatorial father and an absentee mother. Dad worked and controlled every little thing in the household and Mom was seriously depressed to the point of being non-functional, but everybody roused themselves to look perky and delighted to be in church every Sunday. This is simply an overview without details, but enough to strike a chord in the hearts of readers who grew up in similar situations.
One of the side effects of this upbringing was a challenge in seeing truth. When surrounded by deception, ‘white lies’ and outright lies, a kid doesn’t develop the ability to be discerning. It, for me when I recognized it, became a life long pursuit to develop a bullshit detector. And to be rigorously honest with myself and others. Kind but accurate. Clear and concise in my words. Integrity and ethics became my identity and something I continue to strengthen and develop today.
In thinking about my dad on this weekend of Father’s Day, I’m remembering him for the human being he was and for the extraordinary professional he was and for the fact that Dad worked on improving himself all of his life, too. That is the legacy he left for me. He got an additional degree in philosophy in his 70’s which I never knew about until he was dead. It’s been some time since Dad left the planet, and I’m choosing to follow in his footsteps of becoming the best version of myself I can be and to help those around me with class and kindness. Thanks Dad. ❤ ❤ ❤