No matter how much time goes by, I’ll always be a little sad my daddy isn’t here for Father’s Day.
He died in 1995 — a super grandfather, a good dad and husband.
I have delightful memories, some regrets, and times of just plain missing him.
But in the end, I walk away feeling good. Because what I once thought I wanted in a father wasn’t what I got. And I’m so glad.
I’m glad my dad wasn’t what I wanted him to be.
Don’t get me wrong. He was an excellent man with good character and integrity. He treated us well.
But somewhere along the way, I got the idea that my dad ought to be 1) outgoing; 2) talk to us on a regular basis like a TV dad; 3) be happy all the time. But that wasn’t my dad. He was quiet, shy, and he didn’t show his emotions. I wanted an extrovert, but he was an introvert.
Which brings me back to I‘m glad my dad wasn’t what I wanted him to be.
I learned early that people are who they are. You can’t change a person’s DNA. My dad didn’t have the capacity to meet my unrealistic expectations. I was frustrated. Then reality set in: my dad wasn’t going to change, so I had to change my thinking.
To have a relationship with Daddy, I had to get rid of my expectations and get real.
In the end, that was the biggest gift Daddy gave me. He unknowingly taught me that expectations are dangerous. When we expect something, we almost always get nothing in return. Our expectations often are unfounded and unrealistic.
Looking back on our relationship years later, I’m so glad we stumbled through and made a way for daddy love to show itself in a non-stereotypical, non-TV, non-Leave-It-To-Beaver way.
I’m not one to force advice on anyone, but today I wanted to share what I’ve learned from putting aside unrealistic expectations and embracing your dad.
5 tips on Father’s Day and beyond
Be generous towards your dad (or your husband in the daddy role). Open your eyes and look at him realistically, with grace. So what if he’s not perfect? You aren’t either. Look for the good.
Do things on his terms. In order to be in relationship, we have to do things we don’t want to do sometimes. As our parents age, we need to do more things on their terms. If I’d waited for Daddy to do things my way, I’d still be waiting, twenty-one years after his death. Your ground isn’t holy–don’t plant your feet there.
Get to know your dad. Some of the best times I had with Daddy were when we drove around his childhood town and he told me stories of pulling pranks and running wild with his brother on lazy summer days. It was a side of my serious dad I couldn’t imagine. Shared times and telling stories add dimension to relationships
Stereotypical dads are boring — but your dad is unique. How is your dad special? My dad took me to the bookstore on a regular basis, and we’d stand and peruse magazines and books for hours. I don’t know a lot of dads that did that with their daughters. Think of the things that make your dad special and dwell on those things.
Instead of wishing for another kind of dad, enjoy the dad you have. He’s not a TV dad, but he’s real and he’s yours. Stop griping about his deficits and just enjoy him. He’s your daddy.