My relationship with my father has always been a little hard to define. My parents separated when I was 3 years old and I don’t remember ever living with him or seeing him more than a few times a year until I was in my teens.
The relationship was made more difficult for me, I think, by the fact that I had a very loving and emotional mother at home and my father was the opposite. I don’t remember a single expression of love between us. I thought he just wasn’t good with little kids until the grandchildren started arriving and I saw him with babies.
Now I’m fairly certain that his goal was raising us to be successful adults that he could be proud of.
As a parent now, I find it difficult tom comprehend how you could not hug and kiss and cuddle your babies, but I’ve also learned more about my grandparents, which leads me to believe they weren’t very touchy-feely either. I now believe that my dad is more playful with his grandkids because he is not responsible for the adults they become, he believes that we are the kind of parents who can teach them well.
I believe it too.
And I’m coming to release that some of the things my dad did that drove me crazy as an 8-year-old are benefiting me now.
For instance, his insistence that I never say something without be able to back it up. It used to drive me crazy to not being able to say anything to him without being asked for proof, but it helped me to learn to think quickly and not jump into an argument half-cocked. (I’ve been getting better at that last part).
He also taught that you can always learn from people. Just yesterday we went up to Parliament Hill together to celebrate Canada Day (the baby’s first, so excuse me if I got a little emotional – it’s my favourite holiday). Once we found our spot, he started a conversation with a man standing beside him, and the told us all about him once the show was over. He also has an incredible memory for the people he meets. Mention a journalist he taught during his years as a professor and he can tell you all about the best assignment they handed in. I think I inherited some of this, though not necessarily the confidence to share the information. (I have a really good memory for names and faces, but I always assume people won’t remember me).
Growing up with the father I had also gave me the desire to be successful in my career. Almost everyone in his industry knows his name, even 15 years after his retirement (though he has actually stopped working, just teaching). I want to be someone who is respected by my colleagues and who is known for knowing things. Both of my parents gave me the drive to be smart and my dad taught me that I could always know more and everyone I meet can teach me something.
I believe that my mother taught me strength in my emotions, and my father taught me calm in a crisis. I hope to be able to pass these traits on to my daughter.