Saturday, June 18, 2011

My relationship with Fatherhood- as a daughter and a mother

I was simply going to ignore Father's Day here, but that's not a very balanced idea, now is it?  I keep writing about balance.  My spiritual lessons lately have been about balancing the masculine and feminine in everything.  I couldn't ignore this post, without being hypocritical. I am torn between want to honor my husband as a father and honoring all of those men who have committed themselves to being fathers, and my own convoluted relationship with the father figures in my childhood.  So here is my lament and tribute to fathers.

I spent much of my life declaring women to be superior to men, mostly out of an imbalance view of life.  It's not surprising given my family history.  My mother hated her father, with good cause, but still, it was one of several reasons my view of fatherhood was so dim.  It wouldn't have mattered anyhow even if my grandfather had been a different person.  he died when I was eight.  I have never met my biological father.  He has never made any effort to be in my life, and I am only mildly curious about what I may have inherited, physically or personality-wise from him.  We are separated by religion, by economics, by a great generation gap and by ideas of morality.  He, actually matters very little to the story of my life.  Of a greater, and far more complicated, importance is the man who for 15 years help raise me. He was there for milestones like graduations and prom and first dates. He was the man my husband asked for permission when he proposed. He walked down the aisle at my wedding, but he isn't in my life anymore.  Sometimes I ache with missing him and other times, I am so angry at his absence that I can't think about it.  One day, when I'm a little stronger and ready to face it, I'll have to deal with these emotions and sit down and talk to him.  He was a good dad to me though.  He taught me to have a sense of humor (which I had been born without) and to appreciate art and creativity.  He was weird and that was okay, because I was weird too. Now, I can see that he was human and made mistakes.  I can't really fault him for that, I just wish our relationship hadn't been shredded in the disaster.  He made me appreciate the need for a good father for my children.

My husband, a man who struggles with his own ideas of how to be a good father and my own, is doing his best.  He loves our children thoroughly.  When they were born, he held them in his arms, curled around them as though he would be able to protect them from anything.  as time has gone by, he has realized that you can't protect children against every heartache and injury.  He has participated in the insanity of parenthood and laughed at the things that come out of his mouth while dealing with our boys. He is learning that loving your children does not mean being blind to their flaws, but that it is his job to teach them how to be good citizen of the world.  He is a partner to me, an authority, teacher and playmate to our children, and a man who father all the children he could, if only there were hours enough in each day and money enough to support them.  He  is driven to find a way to make our dreams come true, which is really the only one of his he admits to (though I know there others).  This man is stoic and rational, silly and offbeat, but he is a wonderful father who cares deeply, not only about his own children, but the children of the world.  Keep going, honey, they are becoming beautiful young men because of the example you are setting.  One day, the kids will come to you to ask for fatherly advice, because you've tried so hard to be a perfect father and largely succeeded.  You'll tell them to trust themselves (and their wives and mother), and then you'll come to me and laugh about having to make it all up as you go, because that's a lesson you can't teach, it has to come through experience.

For all the great fathers in our lives, Happy Father's Day!

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