I believe one of the most important things we can do as parents is try to figure our own parents out.
Too many people my age have repeated the unfortunate decisions of their parents, or believed in those decisions without trying to rise above them -- whether in their own lives, or in their own parenting.
Father's Day can be a strange time for me, and I know I'm not alone.
I had issues with my father. He was too present. He left scars. Some can easily be seen, others not so much.
Suffice it to say, "celebrating" Father's Day with him and finding him Father's Day cards that didn't make me feel like a total fake wasn't exactly easy.
It took me over 30 years to be able to see his fathering clearly.
It took his death a few years after that to give me the freedom to open my mind a bit more about what he did to me, what he imprinted on my personality.
It took me that long to see that I do not, in fact, have my mom's eyes.
I have my father's eyes.
I've been looking into my own eyes my entire life, but couldn't see the resemblance until I was 35 years old. The shape, the lid, the size. I was always so focused on the hazel in his -- mine are blue. I was always so focused on the violence I saw behind his -- mine searched for peace.
I've been opening them a lot more since realizing this undeniable genetic fact.
What else have I been so selectively blind to?
For the past nine years now, when Father's Day comes around, I feel a certain sadness. I search for the perfect way to celebrate my husband -- a wonderful, present, awesome dad -- while wishing I had a father like him.
But there's no going back.
There is moving forward and allowing myself to see that I did benefit in certain ways from having the father that I had. I can do things for myself. I have a perspective that makes me value little things, quick moments, small joys.
I think I turned out pretty well, pretty happy. Guess who gets to take credit for that?
Since I was very little, I always knew when he was in the wrong, but lately I've been trying to figure out why.
Why did he do what he did?
I know it was never, ever my fault, but I imagine it would benefit me as a parent to try to understand him better. My kids are already asking me questions about him, and I need to find answers that benefit them, too. Find lessons and good and understanding about who I had as a father, so I can be a better mom. So when my kids are parents, they have a pool of valuable information to help them be the best parents they can be, too.
As long as we're alive, no matter which paths we take, we will always be our parents' children.
I have to hope that by embracing this and looking for the best in it, we can learn to be better for it.
I hope I can, in a little way every day, be better for it.