Show me a girl who does not have a complicated relationship with her dad and I’ll show you what hell looks like frozen over.
Actually, show me anyone who does not have some kind of interesting dynamic with their family because that person is a rare study!
I’ve been writing this piece for about six months, which is very unlike anything else I have previously written, and I think that speaks to the complexity of this topic.
My relationship with my dad.
I believe that all of our relationships are continuously evolving, just as we are always (hopefully!) growing. And growing pains are very real. I think that as we develop, we inevitably screw up. We love each other. We hurt each other. It’s just part of the deal. I think that the ways in which we affect one another are mostly unintentional, simply by-products of the combination of our past, present, and future selves.
When I think about my relationship with my dad, I see two sides of the story: a wonderful provider and an often emotionally absent parent. A loyal man and someone I don’t really even know that well.
And that has created pain.
But due to my own obsession with personal development over the last few years and all the reflection that has prompted, I can see that the love I always wanted from my dad was the love that I had a really hard time giving to myself and probably the love he had a difficult time giving to himself too.
We love others the way we love ourselves.
Recently, my dad shared with me that he works on an all-female team of executive rock stars. He told me what a joy it was to see all these empowered women kicking ass.
And I realized in that moment what a true gift my dad is. There’s not a lot of men who can handle that many strong women in one room. And frankly, there’s not a lot of men who could handle my mother, my brother, and I all under the same roof.
I found a new kind of appreciation for my dad. This man has never tried to put me in a box, has always let me march to the beat of my own drum, and has always encouraged me to be my boldest, biggest self. He always encouraged me to reach for the best.
And I think about what a blessing he is in my life.
This reflection also made me think about my grandfather, a complicated man who caused a lot of stress for his family, particularly my dad. But despite all of his flaws, he married my grandma, a woman I was never able to meet but who I can feel so strongly in my bones. A woman who I believe has given me pieces of her wings and empowered me to take many of the leaps I have taken in the last decade.
The story about my grandmother that has always struck me is the one about her 19th year of life. As an Australian teenager, she jumped on a sailboat alone to sail to America and never looked back. That’s a big deal any time, but especially in that day and age.
So I thank my grandfather for teaching my dad about the power in loving a strong-willed, determined woman. And maybe this is part of healing—realizing that despite your family’s imperfections, they gave you so much strength. That their choices, however seemingly small or inconsequential, somehow shaped you into the person you were designed to be. So even though my grandfather was a pain in the ass, I have to thank him for teaching his boys how to love, accept, and live with strong women. God knows he was far from perfect, but he did set the stage.
I may not have always had the fatherly interactions I wanted, but I know for sure and can honestly say that I definitely got the dad I always needed.
So here’s to my dad, the man who taught me everything I know about Dire Straits and classic rock (hello, Brothers in Arms dance parties), the man who taught me how to use power tools and sail a boat and launch a rocket, the man who taught me how to drive at the age of seven.
Here’s to the man who taught me how to be patient (you have to build it the RIGHT way before you can decorate it), the man who laughed at my sass and determination as a girl when I wouldn’t let him help me drive bumper cars at the fair.
Here’s to the guy who has 100% jumped onboard all of my wild ideas and who has always encouraged me to create, to dream big dreams and build big things.
Here’s to my loudest, most loyal cheerleader.
I understand why my soul picked this man to be my dad. And I’d do it again in any other lifetime.
We should all be so lucky.