Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathering a different from being a father

My family history is definately more about the mothers than fathers. My mother's grandfather was one of those mean german patriarchs who never smiled and didnt seem to love anyone or anything. You have seen pictures of men like him : grim looking and rather frightening. Fortunately for her, he died young. That seems harsh but apparently living with him was no treat. He was miserable and made everyone else miserable too.
My mother and her mother lived with them since my grandfather was in the Navy and on the go all the time. Then my mother's father got a splinter in his finger ( weeks before sulfa drugs came out ) and he died of blood poisoning when she was in the 5th grade.
My own father, Buck, was less than great in the "being a father" department. He liked being with his friends, out and about, more than he liked being present in my life. Mom decided we could do without the drama and trauma of all that he brought to the table. Divorce. Mind you , I still got to go see him but even that was something less than wonderful. I never knew which girlfriend he would be with or if she would be kid friendly. The one he eventually married was not. At least not to me. I was 12 when he to spend part of the year with them in Salt Lake City but that was the last time I visited with them. She had a miscarriage and said it was my fault ( apparently I was sooo awesome that I had life or death powers over the unborn). For years I believed that. He also sexually assualted me that last visit....another reason I wasnt ever keen to go again. Ah well....
Then there was ( is ) my step-father who dumped my mom after 17 years of marriage so he could revisit his past with an old flame. Although he was an amazing man who actually did the father job of raising me, the hostility I felt ( feel ?) about what he did to my mom overshadowed all the good things. From this distance ( and advanced age ) I see that nothing in that situation was about me, per se, and forgive him. could and should have been so different for her.
Which brings me to the father of my own children.
What a difference. He was up in the middle of the night when they were babies, changing diapers, rocking them, loving them the way a father should. Something that even as recently as the 70's ( dont chuckle, it seems recent to me!) men simply did not do. He was in the delivery room for every birth....and has remained a part of their lives ever since. He is the one they respect above all others....he is the one they love beyond measure. He is the one they know they can turn to when their lives are falling apart and they KNOW without doubt that he will be there. He is their strength and support. He is their biggest fan club. He simply loves them.
And that is the difference between fathering a child and being a father.
What a blessing...what a gift from God that my children have this man in their lives.
What a blessing to finally see and know what being a father is, up close and personal.
What a gift that they will never know what its like to be without that love.

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