As I reflect on Father’s day, I find myself thinking of how I parented my own children. I am a mom actually, not a dad, but as a parent I can say this much—I tried my best. I loved my children with all my soul as most parents do. I didn’t delve into manuals and “How to” books much. I believed motherhood and its lessons would come naturally, organically. Would it have made a difference if I had enrolled in classes, read libraries of information, taken it more seriously as something I could mess up? Perhaps. And I did mess up. Many, many times. I also hit home runs once in a while, where I said or did just the right thing. Sometimes I took advice from wise, experienced family and friends, and sometimes I took another course. Sometimes I couldn’t bear to look and I’d put blinders on. And sometimes I dove headlong into the fire for my children.
As a child I thought my dad was the most magnificent man on earth. I loved him unconditionally—I almost thought he was magic. The pendulum swung far into fairy land and rose-colored glasses. Like Mary Poppins’ measuring tape, the pendulum read, “Practically Perfect in every way!”
As a teen, I noticed every mistake he made, every grumble, every wrong step. Mind you, by then he had five of us! He came up imperfect after all, and at one point I “ran away from home” for a whole night and cried on my friend’s shoulder about my Dad, who “Didn’t care about me at all.” The pendulum swung hard the other way, into the bitter, harsh reality that my dad was not the perfect man I thought he was. The pendulum read, “You’re mean.”
When I had teens of my own, and felt the frustrations of their hormonal chaos, I remembered how I had once judged my dad. I called him and told him how wonderful he was, and how grateful I was for all his patience, grace and love over the years. The pendulum swung back where it belonged, squarely in the middle, reading “Human.”
What a relief to realize that we can in fact try and fail, try and succeed, try and fail, like the tides, and know that it is okay to be human beings. At the end of the day, we give all we have, with the very best of intentions, for the love of our children.
And so I say, to all you “Perfect,” “Mean” and “Just Plain Human” dads, have a wonderful, blessed Father’s Day, and know that you are loved.