I see it on social media a lot. A meme that goes something like, “You taught me everything except how to live without you, mom”. I get the idea. I have lost my parents. My son has lost his father. There has been a lot of loss in my life. I miss them every day, but statements like that actually make of my father. Not in the way that you would expect. In fact, the opposite.
I loved my dad. I still love my dad. He was a single parent who raised us in the 70s-90s when single dads just wasn’t a thing. He was one of the strongest people I know. The only one who came close way my Grams who was also a single parent in the 50s and 60s, also when it wasn’t really a thing. My Grams raised my dad to be strong and independent, and though she was always there to help out and take us kids on weekends and vacations (she lived for those times). She also made sure that he was capable of handling it all on his own when he had to.
My dad helped me a lot. He did, and I could never deny that, but the one thing he always told me was that a parent’s job was to raise their children to NOT need them. To raise their children to be independent, because one day the parent would not be there, and the child will become a parent themself and have someone else who needs to be taught the same. “Independence is the greatest gift a parent can give a child.”. It sounds great now, not so much when I was hobbling home from school in the snow… on crutches. But I did it. I got home. I made my way by myself. “There is nothing that you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”. These are the types of phrases that I grew up listening to.
There were a lot of hard times for both my brother and me. We struggled, and we persevered. I admit, I had way more help along the way than my brother did. I think that went along with me being a girl and my dad assuming I would have a man to help me as I got older as well. Well, as of now I do not have a man. I do not have my father. Before I turned 40 I was a single mom and, for all intense and purposes, an orphan. My dad had given me great training though.
When he was sick, I moved back in with him. I helped him with medication. I took him to doctors and hospitals and called the EMTs when necessary. I turned into his emergency contact, and his proxy when he went under for surgery. He was a great father who taught me how to be a great mother. When he died, I was devastated. How could I live without my dad? But I did. I did every day. I got up, took care of my own son. Cleaned out my father’s house. I went to the lawyers to deal with his paperwork. I even took over his business for a while when it suited my needs.
My dad taught me everything. Including how to live without him. It’s not something that I ever wanted, but it was something that everyone knows is going to happen. Many people today do their best to protect their children from anything that may hurt them but hurt is part of living. One day we wake up and we don’t have our parents. One day we wake up and we are the parents. We have to figure it all out. We have to find our own way. Having parents that teach us that we can; that we are capable; that we are strong, those are the best parents. I hope I’m doing that for my son, and I hope he continues to do it for his children.
Being parents, raising kids that are ready and able to take on what the world throws at them. That’s the real struggle, and that’s the real joy. People are always wondering what it’s all for… well that’s what I have found to be it. Making the world that much better, by making a person that is that much better for it.