What Does Father Mean to You?
Happy Belated Father's Day if you are a dad or if you're celebrating your dad!
I'm not sure how you feel about Father's Day or what Father means to you, but it has caused me a little anxiety in the past, probably because I don't have a stellar relationship with my own dad. About 4 weeks ago, I called my dad and invited him over for a nice dinner for Father's Day. Instead of inviting him to my home, I invited him to my father-in-law, Joe's, home. My dad seems to hit it off with Joe and he doesn't have to drive as far, and so I thought he'd be more likely to accept the invite.
I also invited my half-brother, Shaun, and his wife and young son. My dad said to remind him as the date got closer, and so I did, attempting to call him, but never getting through. However, he'd told Joe he planned to be there. Joe was reluctant at first to have anything at his home (he's 90 years old), but he decided to use this opportunity to clean up his kitchen area, and he even had it painted. I think he was
actually excited to entertain at his place. So I bought all the ingredients for a delicious lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and cheesecake, since my dad loves pasta.
Chelsea, my daughter, prepared a double batch of the lasagna. I packed everything up on Saturday morning and took it to my mom's home in Illinois, since we had Chelsea's high school graduation party Saturday evening, and we planned to say overnight at my mom's. It didn't make sense to drive all the way back to Missouri, prepare the dinner, and back track back to Joe's house, which we'd be passing
on the way back from Illinois. Sorry for all of the details!
So Father's Day arrived. Chelsea made the two gorgeous batches of lasagna, which, you may know if you've ever prepared it, takes a couple of hours. We drove over to Joe's, dog and all in the back seat. Joe was in a decent mood, and I could tell he was very proud of his clean, neatly organized, and freshly painted kitchen. Everyone was to arrive at 2pm. At 2:30, we still hadn't heard from my dad or my brother's family. By 3:30pm, it was apparent that no one was showing up, and so we ate our lasagna meal without them. This annoyed and irritated me more than anything, as I thought, "How rude! How hard could it be to make a call?"
Regardless of who it is, when someone stands me up like that, I really don't have much patience with the person. I stewed over it a few minutes that day, but then I realized that this wasn't personal. It was my dad's stuff. Why should I continue to think about it, when thinking about only made me angry? I almost felt worst for Joe than anyone, since he took great care to prepare his home for the rare company visit. Oh well. I choose to interpret this and think about it in a way that empowers me, "My dad is missing out on a great relationship with me, but he's not suffering too much, or he'd do something different. I choose to forgive him and to release my suffering as well."
My lesson? I will not continue to invite him, not because I'm mad at him, but because he doesn't think holidays are important, and I don't want to use my time or energy on someone who has different values and beliefs that clash with mine. It's not personal. We are just different, regardless of whether he's my dad. I think the suffering occurs for many because we have certain expectations about our relationships with our parents. Moms should be loving and nurturing, and dads should be strong and protective and kind. When our parents don't fall into this mold, we want to criticize them and reject them. I think I'll just let my dad be my dad, release these expectations, and thereby reclaim my power.
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In Joyful Service,