My mom left when I was five.
The semantics of why she left really are unimportant because the bottom line is that she was gone.
My brother and I: motherless.
My dad: wifeless
All of us: broken
The best thing about everyone being broken at the same time is that you pick up the pieces to your lives together. They may not fit together the same way they did before everything shattered. But sometimes there's beauty in how that turns out.
Now you might ask, how does a dad, in the early '90s, newly single, with two kids go from working full-time to being an only parent full-time, make it work?
The answer is quite simple actually.
By doing whatever it takes.
And my dad did.
He would have walked on fire if he had to. And for everything he did, all the burgers he flipped, and braids he attempted to braid, I will be forever grateful.
Raising two kids alone is hard. Forgiving the person who broke your heart and left you with that task, is even harder. But by forgiving my mother, my dad showed me how important forgiveness is. In order to move forward in life, it's crucial to forgive those who have hurt you, wronged you, and betrayed you. ESPECIALLY when they don't care if you forgive them, or if they have hurt you and walked out of your life altogether.
I think what kids need most is family. After mine was uprooted, relocated and turned upside down. We had cousins, aunts, uncles and even my dad's mom all step up to help. My dad wasn't too proud to accept the help offered, and taught me that even the greatest parents need support sometimes. He showed me that when it comes down to choosing between your pride and your kids, you choose your kids.
I'm sure taking the first burger flipping job he could find and sleeping with his kids on his younger brother's floor wasn't exactly where he thought he would be in life, but he did it because it was what was best for his children. Every single thing he did was to better OUR lives.
We never lived in an apartment, we never went hungry, and we never felt alone. We did girl scouts, boy scouts, orchestra, choir, drama, band, and he was there for every minute of it cheering us on. Literally everything he did in life was with intention and purpose. It taught me that no matter what your circumstance, as a parent, your job is to make your child's life the best you possibly can. And, when you put your mind to it, anything is possible.
Money Isn't Everything
Obviously, we weren't rich. Although we may have shopped at thrift stores, and bought groceries with coupons, I never felt deprived of anything. My dad made sure that we had so many good memories growing up that there wasn't any room left for the bad ones. He taught me the importance of the little details and how much they mean. That it really is the thought that counts.
You can buy your kids whatever they want, but it won't buy you more time with them. It won't buy you their trust or their friendship. And it certainly won't buy you lasting memories, which at the end of the day is all you'll really be able to leave them with.
Lastly, my dad taught me what love means. He worked day and night to build us up, make us stronger adults, and to prepare us for life. He showed me that love is shown through the little things and the big things, through what you say, and what you do. He showed me that love is unconditional; it forgives, and grows. It's compassionate, empathetic and doesn't judge.
We have cried, counseled and celebrated with each other, he has shown me what a good man is, what a good friend is, and what a good parent is. My dad has become my best friend, and my closest confidant, yet there are still so many moments in my adult life that he surprises me with what he has to offer and teach me. I can't imagine our lives any other way.