I gotta say…Father’s Day was a mixed bag of emotions for me. Let me explain why.
On Saturday, Sunshine and I went on a road trip to Saint John, New Brunswick. There wasn’t any real reason to go…it was a four hour drive there and we wanted to just enjoy each other’s company for a few hours.
We visited for a couple of hours and left after lunch. On the way back, I thought we should stop by my dad’s as a surprise and wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Sunshine thought that was a good idea and even suggested we grab a card in addition to the visit. So I called ahead to make sure he was there.
That was my first mistake.
He answered sarcastically and started giving me grief about driving around and telling the world on Facebook. Y’see, his new wife (a lovely woman) is on Facebook and was relaying our updates to him.
“C’mon old man…that’s what people DO these days. We celebrate our life by posting photos of where we go and what we do. If our friends don’t want to follow us, they don’t have to. But we have a number of friends who find it annoyingly cute and enjoy the pictures that we take. So suck it…”
…is what I probably should have said. Instead, I just asked if he was going to be home as we drove by. He said that they were leaving to go to a concert but we’d have a 45-minute window. Good enough, I though…that would be just enough time to say “hi” and then head back home.
We were there maybe 30 minutes. He never opened the card we gave him. He talked about my younger brother (i.e. my nephew that my parents raised and my dad eventually adopted) and how he was getting his life together. I told him that I was happy that he was finally getting his life together and he needed to get out of the house (he’s now 22 years old).
That was my second mistake.
My dad went on to berate me about how much of a screw-up I was at that age. I tried to remind him that I had been living on my own (with the exception of a couple of “return trips” back home) since I had turned 18, and that I was a LOT more worldly and able to talk to people than he was (due to him growing up playing video games and being pampered by my parents his entire life).
Nope…he’d have none of that. He continued to put me down and berate me and my life in front of my wife. I tried to ignore it all and just kept the conversations moving on.
After we said our goodbyes, Sunshine and I began our final two-hour drive home. During this period she told me that she couldn’t believe how my dad treated me. She understood why I turned out the way I did when I was younger. She understood why my siblings turned out the way that they did.
I tried to not let it bother me even though it did. I mean, that’s just HIM. He doesn’t have any feelings for others when he talks like that and only cares about what he says. He doesn’t say it to be mean, he just says it because that’s what he perceives to be the truth.
He’s the kind of guy that if you tell him how much his words bother and hurt you, he’d turn around and say that you’re the one with the problem; not him. YOU’RE the one who is soft and needs to toughen up because he’s only telling you the truth.
He berated me about how long it took me to complete university (it took me 8 years because I flunked out of two universities). I couldn’t imagine trying to explain to him that I was such a screw-up when I was younger because I was undiagnosed with having ADHD (primarily Inattentive). I can only imagine what my life could have been like if I could actually study for a test or exam without having my mind drift off every couple of minutes.
I can only imagine what my life could have been like if I had simply gone after my dreams instead of constantly doing whatever he wanted me to do in an attempt to gain acceptance from him. I did what he wanted me to do even though I didn’t like it. He spent my entire life only focusing on the bad things and wondering why I wasn’t as successful as he was.
Sunshine then made the decision that even though the girls haven’t seen him in over a year that they don’t need to be exposed to that type of toxic environment. We both then decided that over the next few months until my dad and step-mother go back down to Florida for the winter, my son and I will make the occasional 2.5-hour trip back home for the weekend. I mean, I don’t want my son to be exposed to that toxic environment, either.
And it’s not like he hates me or anything. My dad loves me. He told me so before hugging me goodbye on Saturday. He doesn’t realize just what he’s like or what he has done to me psychologically over my 44 years of life. So I’m not trying to punish him or anything…I just want to get my son away from hearing those types of words.
The great thing about this situation with my father is that it helped remind me of how good of a father I am to my kids: ALL of them. I am constantly telling them how much I love them and am proud of them for whatever they do and take pride in. I also support their decisions and will do what I can to support them in any way I can going forward.
I want them to know the kind of love and support that I never got from my dad. And I know how they feel, too, because even though it was a “kid-less weekend”, I had all of them text or message me their Happy Father’s Day wishes.
They love me and they know I love them. That’s all I ever wanted from my dad, but I’ve come to realize that type of love and acceptance will never happen. But I’ll get that from my own kids, and that will end up making me the happiest father in the world.