Friday, June 15, 2007

Da Count-Good Dads

My relationship with my dad is sort of a strange thing. He's a very angry and harsh man. It was very difficult to be a child around him. We knew we could not please him, we always knew when we disappointed him. We knew not to ask for comfort and to brace ourselves for verbal pummelings. We knew there would never be a word of encouragement given. We knew he had the capacity to do us great harm if we ever pushed too far, not in the healthy respect for an authority figure way but in the cross way over lines of decency way. We could feel it when he'd rough-house with us and we began to get the upper hand. We knew when it had crossed over from fun and games to a serious need for him to make sure we knew who was dominant and to fear him. I didn't realize until I was a parent myself that he must have had some sort of recognition of his ability to inflict pain and that he had actually restrained himself in some ways. It helped me see that there was some shred of affection toward us even if it was only expressed in withholding evil as opposed to blessing us with good. There are some good memories of times with him and for those I am thankful. I have to consciously focus on them.

As an adult I have stood up a handful of times and laid down my boundaries and expectations for how I will or will not tolerate him treating me, my husband and his family, and our children. I've known he could choose to walk away from us when I've done this. Instead he has chosen to respect this. He has also mellowed somewhat with age, which has helped.

I cannot go into detail out of respect for my husband, but suffice it to say he and his family suffered terribly due to his father...in ways you'd expect to see on a soap opera. You probably would not believe me if I told you.

Ok, so I am supposed to be counting the good stuff right? So why am I telling you all of this?

I'm telling you because I am compelled to count the good dads I know and see. I count Mr. Lime because he does love our children and they know he does. He is involved in their lives and goes out of his way for them in many ways. He builds tree houses and steadies wobbly bicycles and plays catch. When he roughhouses he lets the kids win and ends it by rolling on the floor laughing together rather than terrifying them. He may not be perfect but he does immeasurably better than either of our fathers did by us.

I count the male friends I have who hug their children in public, who tell me proudly of the things their kids accomplish, who teach their kids important practical skills and how to relate maturely to the world, who soothe broken hearts and build up rather than tear down, who value the unique individuals each of their kids are.

I count all of you men bloggers who share with such pride, love, tenderness, and humor about your kids that I can feel it leaping out from the screen. And I count those of you who may not be fathers in the technical sense but who I know have nurtured children and helped them grow into healthy adults, those of you who have filled in the gaps for those of us who needed it.

I will count the good memories I do have with my own dad and the good times we can have now.

I am counting all the GOOD dads and men who have meant something good to a child because every act of good fathering I see or hear about is a little piece of healing. Thank you so much and may you each have a Happy Father's Day.

30 comments:

Breazy said...

Awwww that is beautifully said Lime! That is one thing that I am so proud of Mr. B for, he is such a wonderful father to our children and like Mr. Lime my husbands father put them through some unbelievable things.

Such a wonderful post!

Have a good weekend !

Nana-g said...

How amazing for you to be able to 1.) Choose a loving dad for your kids.
2.) Count the good moments with your dad.
3.) Be a loving, lovely kind person your own self!

Here's to changing and doing better for the next round of kids in a positive way!

Shari said...

Good post, Lime.

My hubby can be very strict, but he rolls on the floor with them and played kickball with them in the backyard. He's a good step-dad to my oldest and doesn't play "favorites" the way I see some step-dads do when they get their own child.

Cosima said...

Your post reminds me of the difficult relationship my father had with my grandfather, who was very much the patriarch and didn't know how to love his children. That my father could break the chain, which is so often handed down from generation to the next, makes me love him even more. Yay, to all daddies!

KFarmer said...

Now that my dad is older, he has become the best dad. The other one I lived with and feared is long gone. I guess with some, they just take longer and then some never get it at all. Three cheers for the good guys! Hip-hip hurrah! x 3 :)Good post!

Logophile said...

Very worth thankfulness.
I too am even more impressed with my husband's parenting when I remember the lack in his own life. It is amazing, he is amazing.
Happy Father's Day, and well said.

barman said...

I have been fortunate. My Dad has not been Mr Wonderful, always there. Playing catch, maybe ball, you name it. But what he has done is kept us fed, kept a roof over our heads despite all the medical bills, despite having to have my sisters 3rd kidney removed (which must have been way to much to bear). Keeping things going the two times he was out of work through no fault of his own. Never bringing those things up and holding it over everyone.

Now don't get me wrong. We did some things and had some stuff that were not necesities. I really remember my lincolon logs and science stuff I had. But most of what he did you may not have even noticed.

It is sad to see him the way he is now. He is doing OK but, at almost 75 he is somewhat frail, he has alzheimers but it has not advanced real far yet. All and all it is hard seing my Dad like this but I still love him just the same and try to make sure I show that. I am sure he appreciates it and I will feel better for it.

Oh by the way I do not fit any of your catagories but I do know my niece loves me so I must be doing something right somewhere.

snowelf said...

Lime, this post is so endearing!

My mom got remarried when I was six and I have the sweetest (step-though I never call him that) father in the whole world. I am so grateful for him.

My mom's relationship with her father was so much like yours, and he's still very gruff to this day.

I'm so glad you have Mr. Lime. :)

--snow

lecram sinun said...

Not that I'm a dad but thank you for standing up and celebrating Dads and the good guys out there. Especially in a time when "men-bashing" has generally become a popular and accepted sport. There are a lot of good guys out there... not perfect... but we should all be taken on our own merits. A wonderful count, Lime.

Queenie said...

Lime, enjoyed reading your post.
Strange isn't it the effect parents can have on our lifes.
I was 15 when my dad was killed in a car accident, he was 43. I think I miss him more now than all those years ago, I would have loved him to meet his grandson.
Your post really made me think thanks for sharing it with us.

Top cat said...

When I visited my mother she told me, "I wish your Father had been more of a Father to you, instead he left it all up to me"
He was a good provider but never really connected or shared himself with us kids.
You've turned out wonderful lime and if you were my daughter I'd be very proud of you.
My daughter's name is Michelle too.
HUGS
tc

jillie said...

You know it's funny...with the love/hate relationship I had with my step father, I never really did anything for him on Father's Day and now that this is the first one without him, I am regretting it. It's the little things they do that make a big difference.

Now that we are older, we can often see the shoe on the other foot.

Great post today lime ;o)
xo

Brian said...

This was a wonderful post and nothing less than a call to fatherhood. I hope many heed it, because now more than ever we need good fathers.

Ameratis said...

It is really awesome that you can see the positive in such situations. More people need to be like you in this aspect Lime! Thanks for sharing :)

MONA said...

Lime? When I was reading this, I was wondering whose Dad I was reading about, yours or mine!!

What a wonderful tribute to all the wonderful dads in the world!

A happy father's day to all the dads I know, including Mr Lime :)

Lime! You write so well!

goodthomas said...

This is beautiful Lime. You write often of things not so glamorous and yet do so with maturity and grace and wisdom.

It is easy to love the "good dad," the "good child," "the piece of music played by your child that is gorgeous." It really says something about your love (and one's own heart) when you love a flawed father, a son who makes more mistakes than you both care for, a piece of music played on a violin that makes you cringe. Love is an amazing animal.

SignGurl said...

What a great post. I saw on the news this morning that fathers have more impact on a child than any other person.

Have a great weekend!

RennyBA said...

It's alway so confusing as your 'days' are always different from ours in Norway. Fathers day is supposed to be in November you know! LoL I remember when my MIL (from US) was her in May, claiming Mothers day! but that is in February!
Btw: I'm proudly counting myself in as one of your good dads blog friend as I care about and hug my wife and children as much as I can:-)

S said...

Ok I was squirming and thinking ewww I cant handle another mushy, I have the most wonderful dad in the world post....

Thank god this wasnt one. I almost felt like I was reading about my dad in some parts...buying a Fathers Day card is always fun too....sigh....

Well Mr Ratburns a good dad anyway....

MyUtopia said...

That is a really nice post! It is sad that there are so few good dad's out there.

M said...

yes, and Mr Lime is doubly good because like many men he has passed on to his children what it sounds like he didnt get himself!

Happy Father's Day to all those good dads out there!

G-Man said...

I never had a dad..
But I had a lot of love!
Great post Michelle..
Your children are very lucky..xoxoxoxox

Charles said...

I hope I can qualify in that list. I'd like to comment about the statement, "because now more than ever we need good fathers."
We have always needed good fathers, and we will always need good fathers.
It is only now, that we have the opportunity to be good fathers.

From past posts, I'm certain Mr Lime is a wonderful father. Happy Father's day to him, and to all who aspire to be better fathers than those before them.

Charles said...

... so I think all that could be said has been said before me, starting with you, Lime, and for that I thank you. Happy Father's Day and peace to Mr. Lime.

Seamus said...

Wonderful post Michelle. After reading I just mused on my role as a father and the conscious effort put into not being my father's mirror image. Not that he was a bad one, just not wanting to be the gruff authoritarian - hmmmm, I feel a post brewing here ;)

Charles said...

charles,
YIKES! That's disturbing when you post after me. I thought for a second someone was faking being me.

SeaRabbit said...

Very touching post, Lime... ;-) Thank you for the good memories... ;-)

Jocelyn said...

"I didn't realize until I was a parent myself that he must have had some sort of recognition of his ability to inflict pain and that he had actually restrained himself in some ways. It helped me see that there was some shred of affection toward us even if it was only expressed in withholding evil as opposed to blessing us with good."

And this, dear Lime, is one of your most glorious writing/thinking moments that I've seen on this consistenly good blog.

Thanks for the thought food that I'm now digesting.

Hypersonic said...

Thanks lime, though it's not Father's Day here until October, this one made me cry.

Suldog said...

You're one of the good folk, Lime. That you can recount some instances of real hurt, but meld them into a post which gives kudos to those whom you see as good men, and without becoming all "I'm a victim, pity me!", proves that. Nicely done.