Today, I'm thankful for my father.
Yep, just like yesterday, it took me 29 days to get to him. And just like my relationship with my mother, the one I have with my father is even more non-existent.
From as long as I can remember, I've always been a daddy's girl. I looked up to my father in every way possible. I made decisions based on whether it would make him happy - not whether I would be happy.
My father, like my mother, raised me the best way he knew how. We never went without and were basically spoiled rotten growing up. I had a car when I turned 15 and he bought me several others as the years passed. He provided us with a nice home to live in and often did without so that me, my brother and my sisters had whatever we wanted.
Growing up - I thought he was the best thing ever. Then I became a parent.
The instant I laid my eyes on Erik, I knew what it was to really and truly love a child. It was also in that instant that my relationship with my father started falling apart.
You see, my father has a drinking problem. At first, he was able to control his addiction, but the more I was around him, the more I noticed his addiction spiraling out of control. It finally came to a head in April of 2005. Kyle and I had went out of town and left Erik to stay with my parents. It was the first time leaving him overnight and I was a nervous wreck. According to my parents, the weekend was wonderful. It wasn't until I talked with my brother and SIL that I realized that weekend was anything but wonderful. My father drank too much, so my mother hid his alcohol. This threw him into a raging fit. Furniture was thrown, bad language was used and my child - my 7 month old child witnessed it all. To say I was livid would be a major understatement.
The next weekend I sat my parents down and told them that I would no longer tolerate the drinking. Erik was not allowed to be around my father and when another daycare opened up, I would be moving him from my mother's care to a complete strangers care because my parents couldn't be trusted. My dad made the decision to spend his afternoons in bars getting drunk while my mother cared for Erik.
There are more times than I can count that I came to visit and my dad was so drunk he never knew we were there. My father missed my child's first birthday because he refused to get the help that he so desperately needed.
Fast forward to 11.15.09 - Kyle and I are in a panic over what's going on with Erik. My mother had stayed at home with my girls while we raced off to the hospital. When we realized that it wasn't going to be good, we called my mother and let her know. Because of the situation with my dad, I asked her not to call him because I knew what state he would be in. She called him anyway and he showed up at the hospital the day my son died and acted like a complete idiot.
At the time of Erik's death, Kyle and I were separated. Well, after saying our goodbyes to Erik, I knew that I wanted to be with Kyle during all of this - I didn't know if we'd be back together permanently, but I knew I needed him right then. My father sat across from my husband and told him that if he came home with me, he'd kill him. What kind of person says this to a man who just lost his only son?!?! My pastor had to escort my father out and once he was outside, my brother punched him. I'm not even sure my father would remember this if it were brought up to him today.
I don't really remember much of our relationship for the next several months, but I do know that he missed the girls' 2nd birthday and showed up uninvited to Erik's 6th birthday celebration at his grave site.
My father ended up having an episode that landed him in the hospital and because I didn't know how serious it was, I went to be at his side. I basically laid the law out and told him that if he EVER picked up another drop of alcohol, then he could forget I existed. He laid there on that hospital bed in the ER - just doors away from where I kissed my son goodbye - and promised me that he was done.
Needless to say, he started back drinking a couple of months later and is now in such bad health that I don't really know how much time he has left. I haven't spoken to my father in a very long time and I see no need to now. I've accepted that he'll never change and I go to bed every night knowing that I tried to have a relationship with him. He made the wrong choices and caused us to be where we are at now.
So I guess you could say that I'm thankful for my dad teaching me what kind of parent that I didn't want to ever be. I love my children wholeheartedly and completely and could NOT imagine doing to them what he has done to me and my brother. No father (or mother) should treat their children the way my father has done the last 8 - 10 years. It's completely unacceptable.
PS - this post is way too painful to go back and proofread, so please excuse the mistakes