When your kids are young, it's easy to pride yourself on being a good dad because the feedback you get is that your fabulous in every way. Then they grow up and start to move on and in the moving on, they begin to question the way they were raised. They realize that their parents aren't perfect, and are actually extremely flawed. All this is healthy but painful. And it forces me to second-guess my parenting and I live with ongoing regrets that there are no do-overs.
I've been second-guessing my parenting since my kids entered their teenage years and there are specific instances that bring up such pain and regret that just typing this brings on tears and sadness. Our youngest, Miss Ella, just turned 17 and it won't be long until she's out of the house. I know that no one gets out of childhood without some level of trauma from their fucked up parents, because no person is perfect, but I do question the things I've taught them or not taught them and the lack of intimacy I may have displayed.
So the other day when Bob Marley's, "Three Little Birds" song played on Spotify, Ella came out of her room to tell me that this song reminded her of the time when she was a toddler. Everyone left to go to the store and she was left behind with me. I think they probably snuck out and left her intentionally, but when she saw the car pull out of the driveway with Eli, Brynn, and mom, she burst into tears. She was very upset about being left behind with dad, who was doing some kind of weird exercises with one of those inflatable balls.
I probably had that song playing on my new iPod, and she said to cheer her up, I danced and sang the song to her. I guess it worked and more importantly I'm delighted and moved that this is a memory of hers.
I don't know about the rest of you dads out there, but I want to be remembered as a person who loved and was kind to my kids, giving them opportunities and healthy memories and I want to be missed when I'm gone.
Thank you Ella for gifting me this memory.