My father, like most, isn’t perfect. He’s a very reserved fella for the most part, and even when there’s a packed house full of folks stopping by his home to talk and catch up with him, he will have very little to say. He will say he’s listening, but for the most part, he’s trying to catch up on what the political pundits are talking about. If you have somewhere to go by a certain time, he’ll move at a snail’s pace unintentionally to take you there. He can be extraordinarily blunt about his thoughts and any questions he has for you: “Are you dating anyone yet? No? Well, are you looking in the right places?”
Yes, he can be a mess sometimes. My mother often agrees. While they’ve been together for more than 30 years, that doesn’t mean that their relationship is in its smooth sailing with a side of coasting phase. When they actually get along, they really get along well. But my parents still argue about money issues, about my father being inconsiderate, and a slew of other things that are half the reason I moved out soon after returning from college. And while my father was never vocal about their issues when I used to check in with him over the phone (remember how I said he is reserved?), my mom was the complete opposite when I was younger, and still is to this day. If you’ve got ears, she’s got a story to tell, and many of them have to do with the faults of my father.
“You know that your daddy ___.” From going on random trips and having an alleged affair affair, to being stingy with money, jealous, controlling, easily offended, distant, and straight up evil in her opinion at times, my mom has given me more information about my father over the years than I ever cared to know. And I don’t think she shares it to possibly turn me away from my father, but I think she does it because she gets frustrated, and because we’re close, sometimes she talks to me like I’m her girlfriend and forgets that I’m still her child–and he’s still my dad. As time has passed I’ve let her anecdotes roll off my back, but other times, I’ll be saddened by the information she gives me. Everyone has a specific image of who they think their parent is and how they are, and when someone pokes holes in that image, big holes sometimes, it can be extremely disappointing.
On TV, movies and even in real everyday life, I’ve watched people who were upset by the actions of a parent cut them off cold turkey, even if that parent’s actions didn’t directly affect them at all. I’ve even had co-workers say that if a parent cheats on their spouse, they’re cheating on the whole family. Maybe these parents were already failing in taking care or being there for their children in some way, but many people let the bad choices a father makes in his relationship with his wife have an effect on they view them as a father. To each his own.
But for all the faults that have been exposed about the man I call my father, there have just been too many sacrifices, too much support, too much advice and too much love given to me to look down at my father with anger, resentment or sadness. Maybe that’s why I often have to tune my mom out when she decides to share her latest issue with my dad with me. While I know my father could do better when it comes to fixing the issues within his relationship with my mom, it’s not really my business to get involved. Plus, my mother has decided to stay year after year and take both the good and the bad, so she knows what she’s dealing with. And besides, after years of watching them both bicker and be equally irrational at times, I’m not interested in taking anybody’s side.
While some might stop talking to their fathers because of their marital choices, pops doesn’t have to explain all of his choices to me, he just needs to be my father. And in all honesty, he’s done a pretty great job at that as far back as I can remember. He’s put me through school, kept me safe, helped me with my homework even when he was painfully tired after work, allowed me the opportunity to travel the world, talked me about things I wasn’t sure who to turn to about, encouraged and supported my professional endeavors and cried with me at times when I thought he couldn’t be emotionally open. So no, my dad’s not perfect, and he’s not the perfect husband by any means. He’s even acknowledged that he hopes his daughter’s can find men who can treat them better than he treated my mother in the past. But I never asked my dad to be perfect and I don’t expect him to be. However, he’s been there and that’s all I really can really ask for. The rest? Hey, my nickname is Bennet, and I ain’t trying to be in it.