It’s My Dad

He tells me I was a daddy’s girl when I was younger. That I used to sit in his lap and put make-up on his face and get him to help me with things. There’s pictures to prove it.

I believe the pictures. But I don’t remember.

In all my memories, it’s my mom that I shared everything with and who I was closest to. Nonetheless, in those early years and in those favorite pictures from my childhood, it’s my dad.

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It’s my dad sitting next to me on the training toilet in the kitchen with a pile of books until I learned to pee in the potty. It’s my dad carrying me around on his shoulders like a princess. It’s my dad holding us up with his strong hands and it’s my dad I’m smiling at with sparkly eyes and a proud smile.

As the years went by, somewhere between those pictures and my recollectable memories something shifted, and I was no longer a daddy’s girl. We weren’t close during my growing up years. We didn’t communicate well and we didn’t agree on a lot of things. He was mean. Strict. A disciplinarian. And we didn’t get along.

I resented him for many things and over time those resentments festered. There was a palpable tension and nearly visible wall I’d built between us and no amount of effort was going to knock it down.

I hid behind that wall for years. For protection. For safety. And out of fear.

Truth be told, I was afraid of my dad.

He was a wonderful man with a sensitive, well-meaning heart. But he had a temper and he scared me. So I shut down. I stopped talking to him. I stopped trusting him with my feelings. I stopped seeing him as my dad and began seeing him as an enemy.

I’d watch him in moments of kindness with my brothers, I’d see him gently hug my mom, and I’d see him in his efforts with me. I’d see his heart and his love for his family and his dedication to creating a good life for us all no matter what it took. I’d stand behind my wall and in between the moments of hatred and anger and teenage bitterness, I’d see him.

It’s my dad.

And I knew I loved him in those moments. I just didn’t like him. I didn’t think he liked me either. He probably didn’t. It was pretty clear back then, we didn’t like each other.

But there he was. My dad. This strong, devoted, caring man who although he struggled to show it in the healthiest ways, loved his family more than anything in the world. Including me. I never doubted that much.

Despite his anger and his often inappropriate reactions to things, all throughout my life he was there. But we struggled.

It took a lot of life and a lot of therapy for my dad and I to circle back to one another. But over the years, we began to work on it. He became open to seeing himself and the areas he needed work on. I did too. And then I saw this man who had hurt me (unintentionally) more than almost anyone in life begin to transform.

Slowly but surely, as my adult years unfolded, I began to find him again. Brick by brick I started to take down the wall. He helped me- without knowing that’s what he was doing- by continuing to work on himself. Each little improvement was another brick I could take down.

Finally I could see him again. It’s my dad.

When I became a mother, I began to take steps toward him. I realized how much he had changed and I respected him more than any man I knew. Even in the bad days, I respected him. He was a respectable man. Despite his rage-filled days of volatility and fear-based parenting, he demonstrated commitment. He showed us unconditional love, though I couldn’t accept it. He was a good husband and a devoted father. He represented a true man. A man that I wanted my sons to be around.

And so I tried to match his efforts.

Because it’s my dad.

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When I saw him hold my twins in his arms with the sweetest love of a father, and now a grandfather, my heart changed for good. I began to really trust him because I knew I could. As I watched him love my sons, his love for me was expressed. As he bonded to my baby boys, I was able to bond with him.

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My sons father hasn’t been able to love them that way or demonstrate the kind of devotion to his family I hoped he would. He wasn’t able to love his sons the way my dad loved us. And it has been a heartbreaking experience.

During the days of realizing I was headed for single motherhood, I was afraid of the lack of male influence in my sons lives. I worried about the void they might feel not having a strong father in their daily lives. But then I remembered.

It’s my dad.

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After my husband and I separated last year, my boys have been around my brothers and my dad almost every day. I no longer question or worry about anything lacking in the lives of my sons.

I do all the “dad things” with my sons. But so do the men in my family.

So now when I think, “Who will teach my boys to hunt and properly throw a baseball? Who will show them how to be a husband? Who will demonstrate how to be a faithful, devoted father? Who will show them the heart of a man?”

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It’ll be me as much as possible, but there are some things that just aren’t the same. Some things are better with a man’s touch. For those specific things and for my sons, it’ll be my dad.

 

He’s the man in all of our lives.

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It’s my dad that taught my brothers to be the amazing men they are today. It’s my dad that re-won my heart through his love and commitment to his family. It’s my dad that has restored my faith and demonstrated what a real, Godly love and marriage looks like. It’s my dad who has shown me the kind of man I deserve in my life and the kind of man I’d be proud for my sons to become.

It’s my dad.

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This post is also a part of the Today Show Parenting Community posts in June for father’s day. Be sure to go over there and hit vote!

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23 thoughts on “It’s My Dad

  1. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. So glad for the healing that’s taken place for you and your dad! It’s awesome that you and yours boys have such a wonderful man in your lives. Reminds me how appreciative I am of my own dear dad. He, like yours, filled a lot of gaps for my babies. God is so good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I’m so glad to hear that Marisa. There was a big hole in my heart for a long time because of that broken relationship with my dad. It took a long time, and we still have holes, but overall, it’s been a miraculous restoration. He’s a wonderful man through and through, and today, I almost have no words for the changes he’s made. I feel very blessed to have his influence for my boys in such a consistent basis. My boys lack nothing and in fact have a surplus because of my parents, brothers, and family. And me too! Truly, just blessed. Thank you for this! I’m so glad you have that as well. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of your best posts ever. Your Dad sounds a lot like mine. What a blessing it is that you two have healed your relationship. It’s a great story of redemption. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thank you so so much! That means a lot to me. It’s been a long road for us but I am so grateful we are where we are today and that my boys have him as their primary “father figure” now. Such a blessing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Lindsey. It’s been a journey for sure, but so beautiful to watch and be a part of. We aren’t wuite where I’d hope to be but we are much closer. I honestly don’t know that we will ever have the kind of relationship I have with my mom, but we have our own relationship and its good now. So that’s enough.

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    • That means so much to me. Wow. thank you!! I will have to head over to your blog and read your stuff. (I struggle to read everyone’s beautiful work as much as I’d like but I try). Thank you for this.

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  3. A good read with wonderful pictures, Rachael! I too had a dad who was at times difficult to love. He disappointed us all often. But he loved us. There was good in him. That can be a tricky thing to communicate all at once in a single post and I think you did well. I’ll head over to the Today Show entries and vote!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow I appreciate that so much. You’re right…it is difficult to get it all captured in one small post, but thank you for seeing it all. I’m glad you are able to appreciate and see the good in your dad despite his flaws. We all have them…

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  4. This is so sweet.. my dad passed away almost 11 years ago.. i would give anything to have him play with my kids! It is nice that you were able to come to an understanding with him after a rocky relationship.. that is hard to do, especially as adults. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Lauren I am so sorry to hear that!! That reailty is part of why I tried to tear those walls down, because I didn’t want to waste my whole life hating someone who loved us so much and who I now understand just did his best and what he knew to do. When we know better, we do better and that’s where he is now, so I have forgiven and we are moving forward. It’s a long journey but totally worth it. My sons have been a major catalyst to that progress. I’m sorry you lost your dad too soon and that your kids didn’t get to meet him. I’m sure he was a wonderful man and he is proud of you and your family.

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  5. Wow. You have moved me. I adore my dad and have major underlying issues with him too. He loves me more than anyone in this world (aside from my mom). But I can’t help but wonder if it’s a biproduct of their generation, their upbringing. The iron-fist ruling and authoritarian parenting is something that gets my guard up so fast and my desire to fight so high, it’s ridiculous. My dad is one of the most loving people in the world (if he got the chance to meet you, I know you’d be in his book of favourites). But he has this dictator side that I loath…. Okay that aside, the it was my dad component the whole way through this is so moving. The love and example he set for your boys is second to none. He is a real gift to them and to you. What a blessing to have such love for your boys and in term from your boys to him. Love this entire post!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Alana, I just love you! Thank you for this. I am so with you on your feelings about your dad and his sort of double sided nature, because it sounds quite similar to mine. It took such a long time, and honestly, there’s still a long way to go for me and him. But for my sons, they’ve got it and it makes me so happy. He’s great with them and it’s like watching an entirely different man. Blows me away sometimes. Thank you for sharing some of your journey with me about this.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s wonderful that your dad and brother as so involved with you boys. Relationships with grandparents and aunts and uncles are so important. I has a similar relationship with my dad. Close when I was little, but we drifted apart as I became a teenager. We’re much closer now. I think because I can understand him better with my adult perspective. And he’s very close my boys, which I’m thankful for.

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