Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dad -- Repurposed

My dad anf my stepmother came to Bubba's soccer game tonight. It is so astounding to see my dad sitting there, cheering on a group of 4 year olds when he NEVER came to any activity of mine when I was growing up. Never. He might have come to one of my dance recitals when I was four and five, but my only really clear memories are of my brother and my mother.

I think I may have mentioned here before that my parents were divorced, but it's actually a little more complicated than that. My parents separated when I was two (after already having divorced and remarried once already), but then didn't divorce for good until I was 18. That's right. You read that right. Eighteen!

All those years my dad didn't live with us, but he was sort of a part of our lives. He would come and spend the day with us on Sunday. When I got a little older he went on vacations with us. He owned a restaurant and sometimes on Friday and Saturday nights we'd go hang out there and eat supper. I got to play the jukebox as many times as I wanted. And I could go behind the counter and get whatever I wanted, which I always thought was so cool, especially when I had one of my friends with me. After he sold the restaurant, he and mom would often go out on Friday and Saturday nights but sometimes my mom didn't go because she didn't like some of the people they hung out with.

Now that living situation seems so weird, but at the time it seemed completely normal. Whenever someone invited me to spend the night, all I had to do was ask my mom. I never understood why when I would invite someone over my friends would say "I have to ask my dad." I was just like "Why can't your mom say yes?" As an adult, I now understand why my mom made the decisions that she made, but it also makes me look at decisions that I've made in my own life in a new light.

Life wasn't always birthday cake and rainbows, as I'm sure you can imagine, with such an interesting living arrangement. Our situation was basically ideal for my dad. He got to have his cake and eat it too, so to speak. He got all the benefits of having a wife, with none of the day to day responsibilities of a husband and father. I can remember once that my mom was going to be out town for work and she asked my dad to pick me up from a school trip to the Model United Nations that was held at a college in our state. His response? "She can't always do everything she wants to do." He didn't want to take time out of his day, out of his Friday night social life to pick me up. So, my mom drove 2 hours out of her way to pick me up.

And she was a single mom in every sense of the word. Dad gave us some help financially, but everything else was on her. The trekking to and fro daily activities, all household chores, all the parenting duties...they were on her.

Am I bitter? I was. For a little while. But now I'm not. You know, life is too short to hold grudges against people. My dad is not perfect. He's only human. And you know what? He's a fantastic grandfather. He and Bubba have a truly great relationship and he and Punkin are getting to know each other. And his wife, the "step-mom" that I viewed as an interloper for many years, well, she loves my kids just as much as he does.

Red Stapler had this post today about forgiveness. Although I am not an alcoholic, the Serenity Prayer is something I think about a lot -- "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." I cannot change the past. It is done. I know my dad would change some things from the past if he could. He's told me as much. But he can't. So all I can do is to be the best daughter I can be and help him be the best grandfather he can be. So far, I think we're all doing a pretty good job.


Laurel said...

What an amazing attitude you have. You're right. There's no way back, only forward. If more of us could learn to forgive the world would be a much happier place. Great post!

By the way. I'm wearing my bracelet! Thanks. And I may have to fight my daughter for it. She thinks it's really cool, too.

1blueshi1 said...

you are doing so good in being able to forgive your dad and allow him to have that kind of relationship with Bubba and Punkin! My parents live 700 miles away and right now I really miss them, it seems like a long time until Thanksgiving when I can go up there again.

Lauren said...

That is a great way to handle it-and hooray to your mom for doing such a good job! No wonder you are such a good mommy :)

AndreAnna said...

This was such a nice post to read. You really are doing your kid a great service by letting him be such a wonderful grandfather. Sometimes, people just aren't cut out to be parents, and suck at the job, but when they grow up, and change, we need to look at them in a different light.

Lulu said...

I so love your attitude! And mainly because I feel exactly the same way. Humans make mistakes, and it seems that your dad has fessed up to some wrong-doings.

My husband went through almost exactly the same thing with his dad. His parents divorced when he was 12, and his dad was not the kind to go out of the way to do things for him. However, he did spend time with him on some weekends and basically tried the best that he could (for the person that he was). Now, I'm not excusing crappy, neglective behavior, but there comes a point where you can either accept the way that a person is, or let it eat at you and affect your life in a negative way. And why would you want to do that?

It's nice that your children have a good relationship with your father! Great post!

Esme said...

I call that The Grandparents' Prerogative -- doing things with their grandkids that they never would have done with us! Thank you for sharing this... I'm glad you don't feel bitter anymore. That's a hard emotion to let go of. Kudos to you for finding the good in this situation!