Being a Dad … Much More Than Big Piece of Chicken

67732_170443929633222_7912586_nAs I write this, tomorrow is Father’s Day in America. A day when kids and wives shower their Dads and husbands with love and gifts, letting them know they are appreciated for everything they do. Sometimes, it seems Dad takes a back seat to Mom. Watch a sporting event on TV and if they shove a camera into the mug of a player, what do they usually say? “Hi Mom.”

No Laughing Matter

Chris Rock had a comedy skit in which he talks about Dads not getting the respect they deserve. He talks about the only thanks for Daddy was getting the big piece of chicken at the dinner table.

chicken-660464_640According to Forbes, in 2013, the average American planned to spend $120 on Dad for Father’s Day, which sounds great, but when you take a look at the amount spent on Mom ($168) for Mother’s Day, you realize Dad is still securely buckled into the back seat.

According to the U.S. census, 1 out of 3 kids live without their father in their lives. That is roughly 15 million kids with their Dads nowhere to be found. I was very lucky growing up, having both parents in my life. Actually, my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Overachiever

My Dad was a very hard-working man before he retired. I never saw anyone outwork the man. My Dad did not have a college education, but worked his way up to a carpenter foreman, tackling the task of pouring concrete and setting the bolts that would later hold huge buildings. If those bolts weren’t precisely where they were supposed to be, it would cost big bucks to break out the concrete to correct the error.

cigarettes-83571_640With that much stress, it was no wonder that my Dad smoked a couple of packs of cigarettes a day. Luckily, he kicked the nasty habit when my daughter was born. That’s just one of many things that has made me proud of him.

My Dad’s father died when he was young, thus he had to go to work early to support his Mom and family. My Dad did not have the fatherly figure through most of his life. No one to emulate as far as how to be a father. Nonetheless, he did it very well.

My Dad put up with plenty of shit from me as I grew up. I pushed his buttons. Yeah, he yelled and would swear a lot, but I never doubted that he loved me. The man is a whiz with cars, lawnmowers, etc. Whenever I needed my car worked on, he would be able to fix it. I spent many long afternoons holding the flashlight, finding tools, and listening to him mumbling about how the people who designed these engines needed a good boot in the ass.

Never Enough Thanks

I was always thankful for everything he did for me, but I’m sure I didn’t show it or say it enough. I always had other things to do. It was a bonus for me when I was young if I could piss him off enough that he would tell me to just go play ball or something instead of helping him cut grass, clean the pool, or change my spark plugs.

hands-407388_640Funny how things change as we get older. I just spent three weeks with my parents. My Dad is still the same man that he was back then. Yeah, his hair is white and he walks a little slower, but he’s still the same. The difference, now, is he has gotten a bit softer. Before my parents left to go back home, he hugged me and I think I saw some tears in his eyes. Either he knew he was going to miss me, my wife, and my daughter or he was thinking of flying out the next morning with my Mom who HATES to fly.

Memories of my childhood are always good. I think of that time as the best of my life. Unfortunately, for my daughter, her Mom and I divorced when she was young. I think that fact is harder on me than it is my daughter. I used to be a sports editor, covering a lot of high school sports. I remember always thinking I didn’t want to be one of those divorced parents that didn’t see their kids every day. Well, here I am.

Not Always Easy

For Dads in my boat, Father’s Day is often just another day. A day that can be painful, sad, and lonely. We miss our kids every day, but on this one day, it’s harder than all the others. Television commercials start touting Father’s Day gifts, etc., essentially shoving our faces in the crap of being divorced Dads.

Having been through the divorced Dad process, it is easy to see why so many Dads become “deadbeat” Dads. It is so damn hard. Yes, it’s not right for Dads to stop seeing their kids, but many just can’t handle all the hoops they are made to jump through to keep in touch with their children. Luckily, for me, I have stuck it out. I have always paid my child support and see my daughter as often as possible.

graduation-cap-311378_640My daughter just graduated high school and will be attending college in the Fall. I am so proud of her for everything she has overcome in her short life. Things I am not sure I could deal with if I were in her shoes growing up.

As I have gown older, I often wonder why I am here. What is my purpose on Earth?

I can’t begin to talk about how proud my daughter I am. She has turned into a fine young woman. A caring, smart, intelligent woman.

I guess I should stop wondering why I’m here.

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