One Thankful Season
This holiday season, I’m reflecting on an area of my life that I am most thankful for. Perhaps as I share, you too will think of one “little thing” to express gratitude.
Growing up, I wasn’t fond of my mom, but I LOVED my dad. My mom was the rule-maker and rule-enforcer. She was the brash and unfiltered one that often disregarded my feelings and prioritized the truth. She was hard on me. Not accepting average grades, average behavior, or average thinking.
Now, my dad, he was free of judgement. He gave me whatever I asked for. He let me stay out late and go to all-evening festivities without asking one question. When I was licensed to drive, he let me drive his truck to school — even after I had two accidents and shattered the sunroof. (He just told me to be careful next time.) Even when my decisions were sometimes not the best, he never scolded me.
As I got older, conversations with my mom got tougher.
As her expectations grew and my own opinions were developed, we began to bump heads. Our talks became intense. Sometimes with both of us yelling and then coming back to apologize.
On the opposing end, my dad grew more silent — even when I sought his advice about life decisions. What was once a safe space with my dad became a space of resentment. I no longer wanted him to passively let me be. I wanted him to be more involved. More attentive. More communicative. More supportive. More critical. I wanted him to initiate a father-daughter relationship that I saw in other families. You know, the dad who gives the guy you bring home a run for his money? Then threatens the guy to do the right thing? Yeah, I had that fairytale in mind.
There were a list of things I just wanted my dad to do and be — and he didn’t.
Let’s just say, selecting Father’s Day cards got more difficult.
In May 2018, at a women’s empowerment event, I was listening to a panelist talkabout how much she hated her father for what she saw in her household growing up. I immediately burst into tears. First silently, then uncontrollably, an outcry.
A reaction to the realization that I had an internal build up of anger. Although I didn’t behave like I did, my thoughts would reveal the truth. I was hurt from family issues that I had been exposed to and how those issues impacted me as a woman. Writing this now is pretty tough to process.
After that event, I wanted to do something about how I felt.
I began with reflecting. Then journaling. Then praying.
I nearly July, I decided to try. To be more understanding. To obscure my judgmental lenses. To be more intentional with building a relationship with my dad and not resenting him. After all, there are some without a dad or frankly a present parent.
To my surprise, I initiated a time to hang out with my dad, and he called off from work to be there with me. I invited him to a football game and he came. I invited him to travel with me for a gig and he came.
I realized I had never been alone with my dad for more 2-3 hours — ever. During our outings he told me so many stories. Some were funny, others were not. I learned that my dad has a great sense of humor and super tough skin. And even more, that he was really proud of me (words that he hasn’t really said aloud.) Our time together only left me to wonder …
“How close would we be if I had initiated a relationship sooner?”
As for my mom, we now argue and then laugh at one another. To no surprise, I am a mirror of her. We think alike, speak alike, and demand alike. So when we’re bumping heads we know why — which explains the laughter.
So, this holiday season … I’m thankful that I finally understand my parents!
That I am working to accept them for who they are and not what I want them to be. And, that I can be at peace with their imperfections. After all, who am to judge — I’m just as imperfect.