Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day is so different now...

My Father's Day was celebrated already. At exactly 6:50pm on Wednesday, June 11th. The celebration lasted 10 minutes in the driveway of my daughters mother's home.

As I picked-up my daughter for her church class at 7pm, my daughter came out of her mother's house with a bird feeder. Unwrapped. Not impressed, my daughter gave it to me and said sadly, "I know it's early, but I could not wrap it, and there was no way for you to NOT see it, so here it is. Happy Father's Day." I was a bit shocked as this was unexpected, but I took it in my hands and said, "Wow, and it has wire over it so the squirrels will not get to the bird food." My daughter then got excited and said, "Yeah and the birds will not break the doors..." She went on telling me all the different things about this bird feeder. I happily put it in my car and thanked her for the wonderful present.

On the way to church, my daughter spoke to me about the lengths she went to get me this present. She needed to unload, and I was happy to listen and communicate back to her. She told me how she requested this present and how hard it was to get it purchased without a lot of baggage attached. I told her that she did not need to endure guilt or any other feeling to get me a gift, that at Father's Day, all a Father wants is to see his children around him. To share and be with him. I told her that she had other choices to celebrate Father's Day, none of which were necessary, but she had options. It was a nice moment.

As I dropped her off to church and headed myself back to work for the 90 minutes we would be apart, I realized yet again the sadness of divorce and the havoc that it continually places on my family.

My daughter had to go through pain and guilt to celebrate ME! She had to argue and feel ashamed to celebrate ME! That saddens me.

My hope is that my daughter will get beyond this and be respectful and giving like I try to be. I can blame my own mother for how I turned out. She always said to me, "Ron, you will never like all the people that you meet in your life, but always remember that the one thing you can always do is respect people. And remember, you can always be in a room with a person you don't like for 2, 4 or even 6 hours, but the best part is that you know when you go home, you leave them behind, but respectfully." God, I love my mother.

So as I have another Father's Day, I realize how different my life is than I had expected. I laugh now as I think of the days when I wondered who I would marry and how grand my life would be. Mother's Day would be filled with the kids and I doting on their mother, and on Father's Day, the same love would be returned to me. Not gifts, but laughter and togetherness. aaah, the dreams of youth.

I think it is sad that divorced parents can not be respectful of each other and commit themselves to making sure their children celebrate the true meaning of Mother's Day and Father's Day. Not for gifts, but for the meaning of honoring. Despite my daughter's mothers actions, I continue to be respectful and celebrate her when it is appropriate and just. It is not to give her a gift or love, it is to make sure that my daughter is respectful and just. For if I do not educate her now, she will not have anything to pass onto her own children. It is tough to lead by example when your heart is broken, but I have mended my heart, and realized that when you have children, you have to provide the best examples despite the pain it may bring you. It is not about you; it is about them and their future.

What keeps me going? What gives me this power to educate my daughter? That is simple. I listen and watch. It is the real joy I see in good family relationships around me. My sister and her husband have three grown children and grandchildren and that gives me hope for my own daughter. My other sister is married and has one child, recently married, and their extended family life is just beginning. And I have one family, which I usually only hear about through the words of a friend, and they celebrate Valentine's Day everyday in their home, so that gives me the most hope.

So what will I do this Father's Day? I will tell my daughter I love her, and we will celebrate having this time together. My son may come by, or he may not, that is his decision. I will take great thought and comfort in my own dreams that other fathers are being doted upon by their spouses and children.

I may not have what I dreampt long ago, but I have the love of those who mean so much to me. I see my daughter every morning before she goers off to school, and she lives with me from Wednesday night through Monday afternoon. In many ways, it is safe to say that I have "Father's Day" in my home everyday. I have a new bird feeder to install in the front yard, and I am truly blessed.

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