Good Dad, Flawed Dad

I’ve had a lot of time over the last 11 years to talk about my father.

Every time I feel like there’s nothing more (or nothing new) to say, I keep thinking losing him will never feel resolved.

This week’s article takes a cue from last week’s, and I have to thank my friend and former client, Grant, for getting my gears spinning this time.

Since my Dad passed in 2011, I’ve been able to watch and learn from other men, other fathers to see how the lead their lives, and, how they exist as patriarchs in their families.

I’ve been inspired by men who lead by an example which states: I’ll give my family the life I never had.

And, I’ve been inspired by men who lead by an example which states: I’m giving my family a life as good as it was for me.

And, I exist somewhere in the middle.

My father did everything well, many things exceptionally well, in a way I’ll never replicate. If he had flaws (and he did) they were sufficiently minor in comparison and hardly worth mention.

As his son and only child, I was benefactor to all the great that he did and I was often too spoiled, too impatient and too self-absorbed to show him what all of his lessons meant to me.

I understood, at all times, that my father worked very hard to provide the life my mother and I were fortunate to share with him. He loved my mother with a love I’ve seldom seen two people share since.

He gave us a wonderful life. One I appreciate more now, than I did when he was here in this world. One of my many regrets.

I have been a father now for over 14 years. Being the parent to a child with special needs forced me to learn skills in parenting that my father never did. Dad passed when Jackson was 3 and I was never able to lean on him to find out how to be the best father I could to Jackson. I just had to learn “on the fly” and do the best as most any parent could for their child.

Of course, Dad never had the privilege of meeting Sebastian. I’m sure he probably would see elements of me at his age to remind me: You know, Jay, you were like that too back then.

Despite all the love and attention my parents gave me, things I’d never wish on another happened to me. No parent can adequately prepare their child for how to handle sexual abuse. Even as a survivor, all I can do is try and protect my boys; that no one should ever harm them the way that I was.

Those lessons live elsewhere on this site.

I’m 46 years old as I write these words and I can say confidently to both of my boys:

I love you more than you’ll ever know.

I work hard, and I work long hours, because I want you to see there is value in doing both. Someday, perhaps you’ll put in the same time and effort for yourselves and, where it applies, for your families.

I will teach you everything I can about the good things I’ve done, as well as the not-so-good things I’ve done, because I want to teach you the importance of not only life when it’s easy, but life when it is ungodly difficult.

I can’t keep you from making the mistakes I’ve made, I can only show you how those mistakes affected me and what it took to overcome them.

I will do all I can to protect you from the things that can hurt you, not because I believe you’ll never be hurt but because I want you to know that you’ll be okay when and if you get hurt.

I am a good Dad, I am also a flawed Dad. I am not the man your Opa was and for that, I apologize. But I am a much better man now than I used to be.

Every day, I am grateful that I have you two to practice getting better with.

With love…