I got a little upset at the Ankle Biter over the weekend.
I know…as a parent, we all eventually get upset with our children. It’s just part of being a parent, right? Well here’s the problem…as a long-distance part-time dad, I only get to spend every other weekend with him (with the odd exception, obviously). So for me, it’s important to always be “happy dad” because those are the memories that he’ll remember as he grows up.
I realize that those may not be realistic expectations, but I don’t have the most positive of memories of my father’s relationship with me growing up (our relationship now is fantastic, though…for the record). Because of that, I want to ensure that my son grows up knowing that while his dad lived far away, he was awesome to hang out with whenever they got together.
So this past weekend, Ankle Biter dropped a plate on the floor after he finished eating lunch. The plate didn’t break and there was no food on it, but I gave him a stare and raised my voice a bit when I told him to be careful. I didn’t yell…I didn’t scream…but he could tell I was angry.
He quietly got up from his chair and walked away with him head down.
My heart sunk. I immediately felt like the biggest bag of shit in the world. I took a deep breath and began thinking back to when I was a kid. My dad used to yell at me all the time and I usually backed into a corner or my room and turned inward emotionally. I’m still battling that as an adult, so I knew that I had to do something.
I walked over and found him sitting on the stairs, tears in his eyes as he simply stared down (as if I couldn’t feel any lower). I sat down next to him and looked him in the eyes. I told him how sorry I was for getting upset because it was just an accident and it wasn’t his fault. I told him over and over again that I felt really bad about raising my voice and apologized repeatedly. I then realized that this could be a moment that he might remember for awhile.
I sat back and told him that if I had done something like that when I was his age, my dad would have gotten really upset at me and then not apologized afterwards. I told him that I didn’t want him to think that I was mad and that he meant the world to me.
That hug he gave me right afterwards almost had me break down in tears. I miss him terribly and it’s been a lot tougher on me than I’ve let on, even to Sunshine. To have him forgive me and hug me with the kind of unconditional love that you simply can’t buy…well, it was the highlight of the weekend for me.
Being a father is tough enough. Being a long-distance father is tougher. I think I’m doing an okay job, but in instances like this I realize that I’m always learning to grow so I can be the best father that I can be. I’m not perfect, but I’m never going to stop working my butt off to be the perfect dad in my son’s eyes.