If you haven’t read my blog post Tears and Pictures, take a second to read it and then we will continue.
I’m begging you if you have things to say, say them. If you’re holding onto memories that you need answers to, ask. I think as adults we tiptoe around trying not to hurt feelings. We are easy to accept that this is the way things are. In my case that was wrong. So incredibly wrong and I’m going to tell you why.
I loved my dad. Unfortunately for most of my life, he was not my first call, my advice giver or secret keeper. I’d watch the way that my girls interacted with my husband and it would almost make me gag. When I say this man will need a tranquilizer on the wedding day of his daughters, I’m not kidding. There is nothing in the entire world that he wouldn’t do for them. They idolize him. Their relationship is sacred.
As an adult I didn’t expect sacred. I knew that my dad loved me and I loved him. For a very long time that was enough, until it wasn’t. 6 years ago I decided that I wanted things to be different. I had no idea what that looked liked but I knew that I wasn’t going to settle for the way things were. I called my dad and asked him to dinner. That was something that I don’t think I had ever done before. I remember sitting across from him wanting to run but my body felt heavy.
I cried, he cried and we both knew from there on out things would be so different. Unless there is clear communication and expectations, there is too much room for disappointment. He had no idea how involved I wished he’d be, and I had no idea how involved he wanted to be. I think being the product of a divorce is hard for kids in general but the ones who never get that foundation from the start have a lifetime of uncertainty and question their place.
This is going to sound nuts but I wouldn’t change one thing about my relationship with my dad. I was never jealous that he was a daily dad to my step siblings. I am so grateful that he was there for them growing up and that they loved him so much. They needed him.
After our heart to heart dinner our relationship changed. My dad knew that I wanted him at anything and everything he could make. He was a staple at graduation, baseball games, basketball games and football games. He wasn’t the Grandpa that sent the card once a year. He was the papa that the kids knew was their biggest fan.
In the last year of my dads life, I have no regrets. I made him a priority. I made as many hospital visits as I could. I’d sit in the room and watch Friends or the First 48 while he’d dose off. I inspired him with posters of all of his grandkids. I even printed inspirational sayings to hang around his room. My favorite one being, shit is hard do it anyway. I was his cheerleader and made sure he knew how loved he was.
I have so many texts and priceless voicemails from my dad. I will never have to wonder how he felt. I can say with 100% certainly that he loved me and he was so proud of me and the family that I’m raising. I wish we had another 20 years but we don’t. I’m grateful for the strength I had to have that conversation and the power that it had to open that door. It kills me to think what we would have missed out on.
If you’ve been waiting, have that conversation. You’re worth it.