I’m in my late twenties. I’m not even done with school yet. I have absolutely no idea about so many things in my life. Like where I might be living in a year from now. Hell, I’m not even sure about the continent I’ll be on. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing or who I’ll be doing it with. I’m still learning about myself and how I relate to this world. In many ways, I’m still a kid.
And then I think about the fact that at my age, you already had three young kids to raise. One of them was your only son, a crazy little bastard named Michael, who had the same amount of energy and caused the same amount trouble as an entire classroom of children his age.
I’ve realized how scary that must have been for you. You were still trying to find a career, and trying to find yourself. You were still trying to figure out who you were as a man, as a husband, and how you were gonna make things work financially for you and mom. Then, all of sudden, you were trying to figure out who you were as a parent to three young babies who relied on you.
Today, I think it’s become almost common for kids to grow up blaming and criticizing their parents. I know I was one of those children and, at some point, I think all of us are. But now I realize how absolutely ridiculous that is.
Imagine if when people were learning a new sport, or musical instrument, or how to cook, we judged them in the same way as some of us judge our parents.
It doesn’t matter how many online videos someone has watched on the technique of skating, we expect them to fall many times the first time they lace up those skates and hit the frozen pond.
It doesn’t matter how many books someone reads on playing the piano, none of us would realistically expect someone to jump behind those keys and start playing Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor. So why do we expect perfection, or anything close to it, from our parents?
No matter what it is that you’re doing in life, nothing will ever prepare you for the actual learning experience. You’re going to stumble along the way. Mistakes are essential to learning. We’re all just learning as we go. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.
Every parent is at a different place in his or her life, and every parent has a different capacity for parenting.
Trying to stand in the shoes you were wearing at my age has shown me just how special you are. I know you beat yourself up sometimes about your early days as a dad, but today I want to acknowledge you for just how amazing you actually are, and how great you were for me as my father.
You supported me in every conceivable way. I never went without anything I ever needed. Even if you had a complaint or two about the price of something I asked for, I honestly don’t have a single memory of anything you didn’t give me that I truly wanted. You never let me down.
You worked some insane hours to support your family and still always made it to the important moments in my life. You were at every big game, graduation, departing flight, birthday, and religious event that I experienced. You have no idea how much that meant to me, even if I didn’t really understand it then. I definitely understand and appreciate it now.
I have absolutely no idea how you did it. You might not of been ready. You probably weren’t ready. But you pulled your boots up and you chose to be a father. Because, at the end of the day, parenthood is a choice. I think it’s time I acknowledge the choice you made to be in my life. The amount of bravery, love, and kindness that it took is beyond words.
I think relationships between parents and children would vastly improve if we all just acknowledged our parents for that simple choice they make to be our parents. They didn’t need to choose us. They didn’t have to stay, or to keep us. But they did. Even though they weren’t truly ready for it.
If we acknowledge that, in the same way it was our first experience being someone’s child, it was our parent’s first experience being someone’s mom or dad, we might start seeing things a little differently.
We made mistakes as we grew older and wiser, why would we expect anything less from our parents?
You are an amazing man. Even now, at my age, I still know you won’t let me down. We’re gonna have our fights. Sometimes we’re gonna bump our thick Italian heads. You’re still learning what it means to be a dad and I’m still learning what it means to grow up.
But I know you’re in my corner, and you know what? You’ll always be the guy I want in my corner. If I ever find myself in the 12th round taking a beating from life, you’re the voice I want to hear yelling over my shoulder to keep fighting.
You didn’t quit on me, or my sisters. You didn’t quit on your family. There’s no one else in the universe I would rather call dad, and I have a strange feeling there’s no one else out there who was supposed to be my father.
I love you, and I miss you!
Your crazy little bastard,