My parents divorced when I was three, and as a result, I became a statistic. In the ’70s, divorce was a new concept and the psychology of parenting wasn’t anything people thought about changing. In truth, the notion of parenting roles were still vague during these times. Fathers were not as actively involved with children — not like mothers anyway — and weekend visitation (in the rare case of divorce) was socially accepted.
My dad carried his weight with visitation and child support but didn’t go beyond. He attended my graduations from 8th grade and high school but other than that, he was absent.
As a child, he was my hero. I told my friends that he was the coolest guy ever. I often compared his looks to Tom Selleck (he was young and popular then!) and bragged about how much fun he was. In hindsight, I only remember going anywhere with him twice. Once to Disneyland and once to a zoo.
As a teen, I began to struggle with his role. I rebelled at the idea that he was sort of a deadbeat but the realization was becoming clearer. He was a hard man to please and getting his attention was nearly impossible.
After the birth of my first child, I began to feel pity for him. He spent his free-time with his buddies at the bar, he was uninterested in my life. At first, I was angry. Years made me soften, and my fondness for Psychology made me analyze him.
This analysis made me very aware of his own pain. I began to forgive.
My dad passed away seven years ago from complications with his liver. A result from excessive drinking. A few years before he died, I was able to repair our relationship. He had quit drinking and I learned I really liked him. I was almost 30 years old before I realized how similar I was to him. His desire to become a better grandpa was ultimately what repaired our relationship.
He became the dad I had always wanted. He was a great grandpa to my kids.
His legacy carries into my life on a daily basis. I think about him during every aspect of my role as a parent. I continue to strive to be a better mom and I always look at the good and bad of my dad.
He has indirectly taught me more about being a parent than I could ever have imagined.