What do you do when it’s Father’s Day, a light year from payday, and 99 degrees outside?
You sit inside and watch movies. I nabbed a handful of movies on Netflix (including both Brian’s Songs), sprung for two 2-liter bottles of Walmart’s answer to Coke Zero, and banished any expectation of restraint against constant snack grazing for 24 hours.
Halfway through Robocop (circa 2014, with half the violence and also Abbie Cornish) I considered this trip called fatherhood. Fresh off a visit to my dad’s grave sit by the mimosa tree and a treasure trove of gifts and handmade cards from my girls.
What about you, dad?
Not a report card. What are your truths? What do you know about yourself? I’ve thought a lot about this from an Aristotle point of view. I’ve a post in the works on The Elements of a Happy Dad for a revered blog, so I’ll try not to eat from that buffet too much today.
What about five truths of me, as a dad? Here we go, with a nod to Alanis Morrissette for the inspiration to be contradictory:
1. I’m somber, yet comic.
As a Generation X dad, I’m dated as a flip phone, but not extinct like a pachycephalosaurus. A man of 43 raising kids of 17, 14 and 10 should remain amped big time about fatherhood, but never use terms like chillax or YOLO. Me as dad must tone it down like Walmart George fashion.
The child of the 80s and young man of the 90s, he’s still in there, though. Once in a while, he’ll say something funny enough he can follow by dropping the mic.
2. I’m spent, but I’m spirited.
Who falls asleep during Robocop? (It’s not you, Abbie, it’s me.) My girls long ago surpassed my athletic prowess (each by age 4). I’ve still got the scrap, though. I’m powered by Coke Zero (or cheap substitutes), not Red Bull. I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.
A guy needs that, for six soccer match Saturdays, midnight runs to FedEx Express to print your papers, and to stay up late enough to write posts about you, girls.
3. I’m poor, but I’m rich.
We had more food when we had food stamps, dad, Marie says.
How gas tanks and lunch boxes get filled remains a mystery until it isn’t. Nothing stays on E long. Least of all hearts. When I’ve lacked skill, I’ve leaned on ingenuity. What I missed in talent I’ve filled in with gumption.
And I’ve discovered a little-known, rarely accessed savings account within me that I’ve drawn on when I’ve needed it most, and it has nothing to do with pay grade and everything to do with pluck.
4. I’m absentminded, but I’m centered.
I have these visions and game plans to help my girls beat the odds and leap from my shoulders to heights unimagined. My guest posts are mapped out all summer and I won’t surpass the speed limit, but I couldn’t find my car registration if I got pulled over tomorrow.
In the recesses of my right brain and tucked away in the E and the N and the F and even the P, I know what kind of dad I’ve been, what I am today, and I’ll need for the next 17 years.
I know that my ability to navigate in the left brain and in I and the S and the T and the J will happen in the spaces I need it most.
And there go the labels.
5. I’m past my prime, but just getting started.
I’ve lost a step, need bifocals and have underachieved in life. I’m so far from done. I know the strength in my shoulders and back and heart has helped lift those girls I love so much.
My arms have been strong enough to carry them and my legs strong enough to keep up with them. My heart remains sensitive and my skin has become thick. My girls don’t see me as the strongest man in the world anymore.
They see me as the best dad I can be, though. And that’s better than brute strength.
I’ve fallen short, fallen off and fallen victim.
I’ve risen above, found my feet and faced the music.
It’s a perfect imperfection. It’s worked well enough for 17 years of being dad, and you know what? With some changes in the game plan and two or three adjustments, It’ll be good for the next 71 years.
That’s the truth.