This is an email my best friend sent to me yesterday. I felt it was heart felt and others out there are probably facing some of the same issues so I would post it anonymously here. I hope someone finds comfort in knowing someone else out there is going through stuff too.
A new journey is almost underway. This past week I was truly awakened to the fact that my wife is about to have another baby. She’s practically on bed rest, can hardly get around and really not doing so hot. Today is August 1st. My kid is due the 18th of September and will probably be induced early. So really I have a month.
Top this off with school starting next week to finish the MBA, possible new job prospects, and you moving closer, and I almost feel a bit overwhelmed.
Most days I still can’t believe I’m a dad. It’s a responsibility I proudly take on, and so far I don’t feel that I’m messing up at it too badly, but at the same time, I can’t help but think over and over, “Is this really happening?”
My parents moved this weekend and didn’t even ask me to help. My wife said they didn’t want to ask me. I was going to call and offer, but really the entire situation left me scratching my head. I don’t know where the disconnect happened between me and my mom and dad, especially my dad.
When I was growing up, I think it’d be safe to say that my father was miserable. He worked 12 hour days, welding and doing factory work, mostly on night shift. I remember my mom would often times be accused of squandering his paychecks, and I know she was. So my dad worked harder and harder. On the weekend and during the day he’d work side businesses, always trying to get ahead, but we never seemed to be able to.
Growing up, I was always by my father’s side happy and willing to pitch in. I didn’t even ask for money or allowance, I just worked and worked. We would chop firewood and sell truckloads of it, clean up construction sites, clean newly constructed houses, and haul off trash from just about anywhere. I remember filling the back of his old 70s model Chevy pickup with tons of construction debris, garbage and dust, old Gatorade bottles and water jugs, just endless piles of trash. Then we’d drive right back into the landfill, smelling the shit that was literally piled around us and shovel it out.
Other times we’d go to people’s houses we didn’t even know and plant trees and do yard work. I remember one time having to dig a series of holes wide and deep enough for 3 people to jump down in, so we could plant these fancy full grown trees. The rich people bought us pizza and Pepsi afterward and went on and on how I was such a little boy out there doing work with my dad. They were amazed.
My point is, the only fond memories I have of my father involve working my ass off. We rarely played catch, he never made it to my little leagues games, or took me to Braves games or amusement parks or anything. In fact, I’d never even been on a real vacation until Shat’s parents took me to Panama City beach when I was 15 or 16.
Most kids might resent their father’s for not really being all that involved in their lives when they were growing up, but I admire mine. The poor man didn’t know how to do anything and never was taught anything but work, and work he did.
Sadly, I think to a large extent, my mother simply pissed away the fruits of his labor. I may be wrong in that perception, but I don’t think so. He nearly left us a few times, but he always came back and stuck it out for my sister and I. The poor bastard couldn’t find it in himself to abandon his kids. When he did leave for a week or so at a time it really fucked me up.
So, I guess my point is, fathers are everything. I can deal with my mom being the screwed up, half psychotic woman she is, and I may go around being angry at her for it, but my real deepest sorrow comes from the life and challenges my father endured and having to watch them.
All I can do is take these lessons and not let history repeat itself. I guess eventually I’ll need to become a real man and have the same honest to God talk with him that I’m having with you right now. I think that will be the true mark of my maturity.
I appreciate that we have each other to lean on and bounce these deep feelings back and forth off of. For me, confronting my own feelings is possibly my greatest challenge in life. I would always rather ignore them or divert attention away to something else. I guess just taking the first step and starting a conversation is the hardest part.
Thanks for reading my really long long email, my friend. I hope we may share many beers together again soon.