On Father’s Day… Recovering from Being a ‘Shitty Dad’ in Old Age…

So, what does it mean when I say to you, “I’m a recovering “shitty dad?” It’s a tough conclusion for an old dude, but a healthy one. Let me explain why…

Being a ‘shitty dad’ is how your kids perceive you, not what you want them to believe. Pops (and moms too) who are challenged with life’s hardships and pain onto themselves, always strive to be the best parents they can be. I didn’t become a shitty father because I wanted to, no way…

I made bad choices for lots of reasons that never added up to excuses I could sell, but mostly pain in my heart and soul. I looked out for me, mostly, as my life headed in directions important to me. But in the eyes of my children, not so important to them…

I was a shitty father, and didn’t know it then. I know that now, though. I can admit that now, too. It took many decades to come home to this reality of not being there for my kids, mostly, when they needed me the most…

It really hurts kids when parents are unhappy. We are angry and act out at times in ways that show a lack of empathy, compassion, kindness and love. WOW! That’s a mouthful of my TRUTH!

Kids inhale the pain of parents far more than we could ever imagine. Children are resilient and forgiving. There is so much love and kindness in the hearts of our little ones. They know only teddy bears, hugs, and Santa too…

Kids see and feel dads far less than moms, we mostly agree. He often leaves early, comes home late, or travels to far off places kids don’t understand or know. He talks to them mostly on the phone, with kindness and love, from far off places we didn’t understand or know…

When he did come home, he seemed tired and distant. He got angry at mom and us kids too, for reasons unknown to us then…

Pops liked to do stuff on weekends too, like play golf, go fishing, watch Sunday night football, and hang out with friends when he was home. Pops seemed to not like being home, mostly. He seemed always tired and crabby too…

Pops seemed distant and angry, mostly, when he was home. He didn’t like to be home, it seemed back then. Maybe he didn’t like kids, who knows. But he loved me, I hoped so, always, in my heart and soul…

Mom seemed sad when Pops was home from a long week on the road. She had plans for family time, but Pops was always too tired, mostly. He and mom would fight or argue about stuff we didn’t understand or know back then…

Pops would get a little on the tipsy side most nights when he was home. A Tiquila shooter or two and a Corona for show. He was usually in bed earlier than most dad’s we knew back then.

Other dads seem to hang out with their kids and attend school events. They even helped with homework and played games or listened to music with their kids, mostly… Other kids joined them too…

The saddest day in a child’s life is when moms and dads break up. Pops often left with a huff ‘n puff, slamming the door, yelling loudly, those ringing profanities with that unforgettable mean look…

My mom slammed the door sometimes too, screaming, waving her hands and pointing fingers. She used 4 letter words too. She was mostly sad, though…

Stomping up and down, throwing shit around, was common place back then. We were scared and sad about that. We seem to behave this way as adults too. I did, and feel ‘shitty’ about that, you know…

Pops usually returned a little tipsy, and went to bed. He got up early most days. He was gone before the sun came up. Mom seemed sad like that most days, back then…

When Pops left us when we were little, we didn’t understand that either. There are lots of things we never could understood, not in a lifetime. Kids need hugs, kindness, love and Santa too…

Sometimes, for too many fathers like me, we didn’t know how to be fathers. My father was mean and angry mostly, just like I was too… We inhale the pain of our parents when they are sad or angry. We inhale love too, when we know and feel kindness and love…

I arrive at my 54th Father’s Day this coming Sunday. Will I get to 55 years as Pops? Who knows…

But this year is my very first year of being a better Pops in my heart and soul. All the past Fathers’ Days in my life are put behind me. And, with a healing perspective never before realized until now…

I will be a good Pops from this day forward. I will leave this life as a good Pops, indeed, a great Pops. It will be my children who decide that in the end, not me. They will have kindness and love in their hearts and souls again, just like back then.

Happy Father’s Day to all the the dad’s who truly love their children, like me. For, I believe we are all forgiven in the end, with kindness, love and Santa, too…

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma
Memorial Day 2021
VFW Memorial and Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon

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