4/05/2016

(D)ad

I have never considered my dad to be my hero.

My dad is a number of things. An alcoholic. An occasional pain in our asses. But I have not seen him as Superman since I was a tiny wee child barely starting to walk.

When I was a kid, my dad never really knew how to dad. He didn't have a good dad growing up who showed his children how to raise children, and his dad passed away while dad was a young adult. He tried. He took my sister and I to soccer games and pulled our hair into sloppy ponytails. He took us to Six Flags and carnivals and fire work shows and birthday parties. He took us rollerblading, sometimes for eight hours with sporadic breaks. He tried his hardest while we were growing up, but he did a lot of things begrudgingly. He would rather be out drinking and feeling young. There were wrecked cars and thrown chairs and mistreatment of my mother and sister and I. Things came to a head when I was ten and my parents got their long-anticipated divorce, because my mother couldn't trust him to be alone with us. After that day, I didn't really talk to him and wasn't too interested in seeing him (even though he sent a card every year for our birthdays, sometimes sending small presents with them, and did his best to reach out to me). He moved in with his mom up north for five years and I didn't see him until the summer before my senior year in high school, when he randomly showed up on our doorstep and asked for some water.

Don't get me wrong. I have always wanted a good dad to be with me. I wanted one that would threaten to break men's bones if they broke my heart, who would be able to participate and be active through my high school career as a band nerd, and who supported my mother in whatever her true desires were. Instead, and probably for the best, I had my grandpa and two uncles for all of those things. My mother made sacrifices and when her sacrifices couldn't be made any further she asked my family for help. I loved being raised in the village of our family, but I know it would have been easier on her if my dad was a completely different person, or if she would have just remarried (alas, that was one of the sacrifices made - no romantic relationships with a man that could throw off our dynamics).

Father's Day is extremely hard for me. I used to avoid it entirely, but once dad became a more permanent fixture in our adult lives, I made it a point to do something for him at least one day a year. Taking him to a movie or to dinner is not hard... It's finding the card. The perfect card that says "Hey so I know that you're my dad and I love you and appreciate what you are able to do for us but you aren't my hero and I hope to god my future husband turns out to be nothing like you." Thankfully there is a wide variety and I usually find something that says just that after about thirty minutes and I write a small message and we're done with it. It's coming up, actually. Great.

Anyway, after he showed up, he made it a point to be present. He came over and visited, played board games and watched movies. He moved in with us off and on and ended up just staying with us after awhile, once a few housing opportunities fell through. He was present at EVERY football game and marching band competition my senior year, attending my graduation as I always wished he would. He's worked off and on and has given plenty of money into feeding himself and assisting with our groceries when we need them, using some of it on medications and doctor appointments. He cooks my sister breakfast practically every morning and cooks dinner a lot of the nights (when we have groceries in the house). One Easter, without prompting, he got us Easter candy and wrote us a nice note. He cooked for me when my ex shattered my heart into a zillion pieces, and had "the talk" with the love of my life (who actually let him know he was proposing in an attempt to get his blessing). He takes my fiance to work on my days off so that I can sleep in (in my car, of course).

I try to focus on the positive, because he has belatedly tried his damndest to do what would help us as a family and even tries to offer fatherly advice, but I am not naive enough to think that he has changed; we've had enough run ins and fights while he's drunk for me to know for a fact that he has not.My dad is not a super hero. He is not someone I ever want to model a future mate after. He is not someone that I would leave my future children alone with. Though our relationship is dysfunctional, and though we are both severely imperfect, we somehow made great leaps and bounds over the past few years and are able to at least have some semblance of something. I know I would have rather had a healthier relationship with the man who helped bring me into this world, but honestly if I had to choose someone else I wouldn't be able to. I may not want to marry someone like him, but my dad is my dad, and I want him around as long as he can be. I love him. I love that he cares about me, I love that he tries so hard to be a good person, and I love his sense of humor. I love sober-dad, and he is worth every minute I have to put up with drunk-asshole-dad.

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