It’s Father’s Day weekend and the stories are spreading across social media like cat GIFs on a TGIF blog post.
Tales of heroic fathers. Remembrances dedicated to that one man who made the world make sense.
There are blogs, podcasts, pictures, videos, and stories about the sort of fathers they make movies about. The kind that taught you how to catch, took you fishing, or just gave you that meaningful piece of advice that proved to be a guiding light in those moments of confusion.
This isn’t the kind of story I will tell you today. Instead I’ll offer to my father a strange sort of appreciation.
You see, dad, our relationship is finally starting to mean something to me. Your life and my role in it is finally starting to matter. We are finally going to be useful to this world as a duo. Finally.
This is all thanks to my son and the father I must be. My role as a son watching his father fight demons will forever help me play the role of a father helping his son maneuver through this life.
For that, and for that only, I owe you thanks. I’ve never really cared that you weren’t around when I was born. I’ve never been bothered by your drug addiction or alcoholism. You not being in my life in any real way never really caused me too much heartache.
We can both thank my mother for that, by the way. She was spectacular at making you just outright irrelevant.
How I processed our relationship
I think instead of being sad about all of it I decided to wear it like a badge of honor. It’s the kind of innate rebellion that is both my strength and my weakness.
Pretty much everybody I know has heard the story of me kicking you out with a gun to your head. I won an award in college writing about that, by the way. The judge said something about my being honest and vulnerable.
I literally wrote it in 15 minutes after forgetting the assignment was due. It’s my go-to story when I don’t feel like being actually vulnerable.
Still, you did pop into my life every so often and I did see you in some very dark moments. I mean, how many kids grew up knowing what it looks like when their father tries to kick heroin?
Hold on. Hold on. This is the part where I thank you.
Seriously, thank you
Thank you, dad, for leaving me to my own devices when I asked you to. Thank you, father, for starting a new life with a new family outside of mine.
More importantly, Richard, thank you for showing me what it means to grow up with the shadow of a father who probably wanted to do better but honestly just wasn’t equipped to.
It let me set the bar high for the relationship I will have with my son. I don’t have your demons and emotional scars. I don’t live with the crippling oppression you lived with for most of your life. I am free to be whatever kind of father I want to be because of the squeaky-clean slate you left in my life.
Now, just to be clear. This isn’t me offering forgiveness or even an olive branch.
This is me finally freeing myself of the notion that my life as your son could possibly have a negative impact on my life as his father. Your legacy and impact on your grandson will be one of distanced anguish because you had just enough courage to suffer in relative solitude.
For that, I will always be thankful. Happy Father’s Day.
Louie Villalobos is a parenting blogger and digital producer for azcentral and allthemoms.com. You can follow him on Twitter @louievillalobos and find his podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Just search for “I am your father.”