I was a terrible kid. I cringe when I think of our fights when I was an awful teenager; one who was cruel and angry. I resented the way you yelled and got so frustrated at us. I struggled with your logical, detached way of looking at things when I was so emotional.
I resented your quick temper and how simple discussions escalated into fights in our driveway (I shudder to think of what the neighbors thought). I struggled with feeling frustrated as a young adult, how I both loved you and felt rejected at the same time.
Deep down, I wanted you to be proud of me and verbalize that. A lot. I wanted to feel like you were proud of me, even when I wasn’t living up to my potential.
I promised myself that when I was a parent, I would be different. I wouldn’t be the “yeller.” I would be calm all. the. time. I would smother my children in kisses and tell them I was proud daily. Or hourly.
Everything changed when I had my daughter. I was blessed with a tiny version of myself. A tiny, stubborn little girl, who was convinced she knew what was best for her at age two. All of the facets that make me a good adult – tenacity, intelligence, no fear of standing up for myself – were incredibly frustrating packaged in a child with limited verbal skills and insight. Suddenly, I realized how short my fuse really was.
After years of dealing with challenging clients and being able to stay calm and removed, all of that was thrown out the window as we argued over which type of cereal she could eat. My tiny daughter, who I loved more than anything, reduced me to crying in my bedroom closet. She brought me incredible joy with her curiosity and excitement about life. But she also made me question my ability to parent and stay loving when I was fuming.
After spending years being hurt, I now realize how difficult I must have been. I understand that I instigated more arguments than I can count, and just like I get angry when my very smart daughter screws around in school, your frustration was not that you thought I was dumb, you simply wanted me to succeed the way you knew I could.
Now that my own selfish feelings are not clouding my memories, I appreciate how much you did for us. The trips you took us on (even though I know now that travelling with kids is difficult), the advice you gave, our "dates" where we'd go for muffins, even when I wanted to be with my friends. I appreciate the things you sacrificed - your sanity, your money - to create positive memories for us.
And now as an adult, I see you for who you are and love you. I am so proud to be like you. We are two peas in a pod. We both like being right, we both love numbers and math and budgeting. We love a good debate, even if we both want to win. We both love planning for the next few years, and although we don’t always say it, we both love fiercely those in our lives and will do anything for them.
10 years ago, Father’s Day didn’t mean as much to me. My hurt and anger made me selfish. Now I can’t wait to find a sappy card or funny one that captures my admiration and love for you and who you are. I look forward to making you a lime dessert and telling you how much I love you.
I love you and am grateful for your involvement in my life. And I’m sorry for being such a terrible kid. My hope is that the last five years of good moments, barbecues and deep conversations makes up for the first 25 being so stressful.