Family is like music; some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song.
As you must know by now, my Dad is my best friend. He’s been the glue that keeps things moving smoothly, the comic relief, and the man who helped me raise my kids when their own father couldn’t be bothered to even write or call.
Dad and I haven’t always been close. That wasn’t his choice, nor mine. I know people get sick of the blame always being placed upon the mother, but in this case it was definitely my mother’s fault.
When I was a little girl, my mother pretty much had me scared to death of my Dad. She would comment things like, “Don’t let your Dad hear you say that,” or “Better clean up that mess before your Dad gets home.” She always ended those warnings with remarks about being spanked or sent to my room. I don’t recall my bedroom ever being messy. I remember Dad sometimes working overtime and not being home for dinner. In order to get me to finish everything on my plate, Mom would warn me of the consequences if I didn’t finish by the time Dad came home. Often she gave me portions that I’m positive were too big for my little tummy. I was a scared little girl.
When I was a little older, Mom kept me in line much the same way. She always made Dad out to be the bad guy. One time I was 5 minutes late from walking home from school and she told me how lucky I was that Dad wasn’t home! I remember running home from school many times after that to avoid the wrath of my father. Of course, Dad was never the authoritarian meany-head Mom made him out to be.
When I was around 12 or 13 years old, I wanted to start shaving my legs and Mom showed me how but told me, “Just don’t tell your Dad. He’ll be mad as hell.” And when I started wearing makeup, I sneaked it because I knew what she would say. I would buy a little makeup with my babysitting money and put it on when I got to the bus stop in the mornings, and took it off on the bus on the way home from school.
I could go on with more examples but you get the idea. There was a lot of manipulation going on.
Dad and I became closer as I entered adulthood. Somehow, Mom knew then that she couldn’t do what she had always done. She had lost her control. Once she left us (her family) behind and left the state, things began to change. I don’t know how anyone could be afraid of my Dad. I don’t know how I could have ever been so afraid of him. It just goes to show you how impressionable small children are. Dad was never anything but fun and funny – if you can visualize a 6-foot tall man riding a tricycle, then you’ll get a good idea of what I mean.
Dad is much older now, 83 and counting. He’s been a great Dad even when Mom made him out to be strict and mean. He’s been there for me when shit has hit the fan full force, and has been there for my kids as they were growing up. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
For Father’s Day this year, I collected funds from my children, my sisters, I threw in my share, and purchased a pole chain saw for Dad. I had extra funds so I also added a battery and charger for the pole saw. He won’t use a regular chain saw anymore. He’s wise enough to know that it would be dangerous for an 83 year old man who sometimes loses his balance to use one. A pole saw is a bit safer since a stumble would result in the saw part landing further away from him. He just needs to remove some tall bushy limbs off some shrubs and trees around the house. Nothing real major. I will keep an eye on him like I always do.
To end the day, my son, his wife and little boy came to visit. They brought wine. Dad loves wine. The Hudster (my grandson) warmed up to us quite nicely. He doesn’t see us often so prior to this visit, he was a bit leery of us. Dad and I both got hugs and The Hudster was playful and silly. I enjoyed the visit as much as Dad did. Dad loves playing with little kids, always has. I hope he has many years left to play!
Take care of your fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and all the father figures in your life. They have shaped the person you’ve become. You won’t have them forever. Treasure the stories and the memories. Happy Father’s Day, to all the great fathers out there and especially to my Dad – the BEST FRIEND and FATHER a daughter could ever have!
The other night I was trying to watch “Prodigal Son” and because Dad constantly yawns loudly, coughs, gets the sneezies, or just talks through anything I want to watch, I turned on the soundbar so I could actually hear my show. He hates the soundbar because he says the sounds are all around and it’s weird. I told him that’s what ‘surround sound’ is and that’s what a soundbar does. It gives us the ‘theater’ experience. He scoffs at that, of course.
During one of the commercial breaks, I wanted Dad to hear some audio on my phone. He couldn’t hear it even though it was turned up. He grabbed the remote to mute the sound on the tv. I realized what he had done and why, so I grabbed the remote for the soundbar to mute that as well. As soon as I muted the sound bar, Dad pushed the button on his remote. The tv sound was back on. This went on, back and forth several times before I said, “Dad! Stop pushing the button!” He says, “I’m trying to mute the sound.” “I know. Mute it and then stop pushing the button. I’ll mute the soundbar.”
He keeps pushing the damn button on the remote. “Dad! Stop pushing the button!” He’s not understanding. He says, “I’m pushing the mute button but I can still hear it.” I say, “That’s because the soundbar is on!”
He’s still pushing the damn remote button. My show comes back on and I’ve given up on the audio I wanted him to hear.
“Turn the sound back on, Dad. My show is back on.” He looks at me with an extremely confused look on his face. The soundbar is on but the tv sound is still muted. I said, “Dad, unmute the sound on the tv. The soundbar is on but not the tv.” He just looks at the tv and the remote in his hand like he’s never seen it before. I get it. He’s 83 years old but it’s getting worse and worse by the day. I picked up my tv remote (we both have one) and I unmuted the tv.
Why didn’t I just use my tv remote instead of telling him to stop pushing the buttons? Because he would have still been pushing the buttons!
After my show was over, I turned off the soundbar. He asked, “Why did you turn the sound down?” I replied, “I didn’t, Dad. I turned off the soundbar.”
It’s no wonder I’m getting so many grays! It’s no wonder I haven’t pulled it all out! Gotta love him!
Is there such a thing as A Perfect Mother? Perfect, by definition is “free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless.” Are any of us ‘free from any flaw” or “faultless”? I think not. Can a mother be free of flaws? Nope.
We aren’t given an instruction manual when we have our first child. We can read every single book ever written about parenting and still fuck up. Things don’t always work in our favor. What works for one mother, may not work for another. What works with one child, may not work with another. All children are different. All mothers are different.
Was I A Perfect Mother? Hell to the no. But I did my best. I screwed up several times. It happens. My mother wasn’t the best role model. My ‘motherly’ role models were teachers. My mother learned how to be a mother from her mother, my grandmother. My grandmother had to work because she was a single mom, and my mom and brother ran around and did whatever the hell they wanted. Granny did what she had to do BUT she didn’t have to sit on a barstool for hours after work, either. I loved my grandmother and my mother, and I know they did the best they could with the knowledge they had. I know I did a better job of raising my children than my mother did with my sisters and me. The point is that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. There’s no such thing as A Perfect Mother. All we can do is the best we can.
I was never the ‘perfect’ mom and I never claimed to be but these things I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt:
- I love my children more than life and would gladly give my life to save theirs.
- I protected them from the “icky stuff” between their father and me.
- My children, now grown, would probably argue to this day that I was OVER protective. I was not. I knew where my kids were, who their friends were, and communicated with their friends’ parents regarding sleepovers and parties. That was part of my job!
- We had rules but I wasn’t strict. I can only think of twice (once each) that I had to resort to spanking. They were pretty good kids!
- They grew up in a safe environment, knowing they were loved.
- They didn’t have everything they wanted but they had what they needed.
- I always tried to let my kids know how special they were; that they were good at x, y, or z.
- I told them how much I loved them all the time.
- I read to them most nights before bed. They often saw me reading books. Still, neither of them like to read, to my dismay.
- My kids ate junk food, but they also ate veggies and protein! Balance!
- When my kids were upset, I let them be alone for a bit and then offered my help if they wanted it. I instilled in them that they could always talk to me, no matter what, but to this day neither of them talks to me about the hard stuff.
- There were several times when they were growing up that I got strange vibes from certain people. I always trusted my gut and steered clear of those people to protect my kids.
- I allowed my kids to make age-appropriate decisions as they were growing up. They screwed up sometimes but I was there for support and guidance.
- I always told them that they had the right to defend themselves if need be, but they had better not take the first punch.
- I cherished the things my kids made for me in school or during other activities. In fact, I have an entire storage trunk full of mementos and sentimental things. Some things are still hanging on my walls!
- I taught my children to love and appreciate nature and animals; to watch and learn from things instead of killing it or destroying its habitat.
- My kids were clean when they went to school or anywhere else. They bathed every night. They had clean clothes, shoes that fit and I wore sweat pants for many years just so they had what they needed.
- My kids always came first; when we were still with their father and after we left. They were my priority, my pride, and joy. They were my heart.
They are still my heart. No matter how old they are, or how old I become…they will always be my heart!
The holidays are not what they used to be…at least for me. I used to enjoy the holidays when my kids were small. The joy and wonder, the anticipation was worth all the hassle of decorating, shopping, wrapping gifts and hiding them, etc. It was fun to help the kids make gifts and goodies for Santa! We had our traditions; the cookie baking, the homemade pizzas, popcorn cake, and pizza balls. That was all on Christmas Eve! The kids got to open a gift that night and leave cookies for Santa. We watched Christmas movies and had lots of laughs! I always made a big ham dinner on Christmas Day, along with tons and tons of appetizers that we got full of before we even had dinner! The kids enjoyed all of it and so did I.
The kids got older, became harder to shop for, harder to please. You know, pre-teens and teenagers. They no longer believed in Santa Claus. Ok, so before someone decides to educate me on the true meaning of Christmas, don’t. I’m quite aware. I’m not a religious person but I always taught my kids “the reason for the season.” But that’s not what this post is about.
About 11 years ago, certain events changed the way I thought things would be in our family. On top of that, chronic pain has invaded my every move, my every thought and…my everything. It’s rough. I was able to spend a little time with my son, his wife and the littlest grandson on Christmas Eve and I enjoyed every minute of it but I thought my house would be full of kids’ laughter and play, during the holidays. Depression, loneliness, and sadness always sets in.
I try not to succumb to the depression but it’s hard. I eat too much, don’t sleep enough, and I cry a lot when I’m alone. During the holidays, I try so very hard to hide my sadness and put a smile on my face. I’m not able to do the cooking I used to do. My son made the popcorn cake for Christmas Eve this year but he didn’t have time to make the pizza balls. That’s ok though, we still had pizza; it was frozen pizza but it was still good. I threw a ham in the oven on Christmas Day and opened a can of baked beans, which was fine because it was just me and Dad. Still, not what this post is about.
I bet you’re thinking, “Damn, I wish she’d get to the point!” I’m getting there, I promise.
Every year I try to make myself feel more festive and happy by giving gifts to others. GIVING TO OTHERS makes me feel good about who I am and I love to make gifts. This year, I crocheted over a dozen gifts for family. I carefully chose the yarn color and pattern/design I thought was perfect for each person. I worked my ass off, sometimes ripping out a design that just didn’t look good and starting over. I put my heart and soul into everything I made. It felt good to do it and I’m not sorry I did, but I’ll tell you what…
I’m makin’ a list…
I’m making a list for next year and if anyone wonders why they didn’t get anything from me then maybe they should think about Christmas 2019 when they didn’t even have the common decency to send me a simple text to thank me for their gift. It takes just seconds!! What a bunch of ungrateful shits in my family. And this does not apply to young children. It applies to adults; young adults and older adults.
I didn’t make the gifts for the thanks, just to be clear. But it would be nice to be recognized and appreciated. I busted my ass to get everything finished and shipped in time for Christmas. It really hurts my feelings that only 3 people thought to thank me for their gift. Next year, I’ll be sending my handmade crocheted items to people who might actually appreciate it…perhaps the Nursing Home, a homeless shelter, or the children’s hospital. Maybe I’ll just make scarves for all the homeless dogs and cats in the area!