How Do You Describe a Successful Father?

Dad The Writer

This ties into answering the question posed above.

Five or six years ago the boys and I are sitting around a table drinking coffee. It is Monday morning but none of us are at work because we all fell prey to employment gods.

Each and every one of us offered as a human sacrifice so that some other person(s) can continue working while we try to figure out how we got sucker punched and what our new identity is.

We’re parents now, each and every one of us and we are scrambling to come up with an answer that we can live with. It is one thing to be fired because you are incompetent and another to be terminated while the oafs remain employed.

The weight of it all falls heavily upon my shoulders and I am uncertain how to make sense of it because the standard I measure myself against is my father.

He put in 38 years at the same place, held multiple positions but they were all promotions and all at the same place and what do I have to show for myself.

How Do You Describe a Successful Father?

I ask the guys what they think and they provide answers that focus around providing for our families but not solely in a financial sense. Successful dads help teach their children how to become productive members of society who are capable of standing on their own.

One of them notices the look on my face and asks me what I am thinking. “You sound like a girl, are we sleeping together.”

It is supposed to be witty banter but it comes out flat and edgy.

“Jack, we have known each other too long for you to try and bullshit me. We are all unemployed here, might as well unload because we get it.”

I nod my head and tell him that I feel like I have failed and I can’t figure out what I have done or what I am missing.

“I am not someone who can pretend I have no role in any of this. If my dad could hold down one job for all those years, why can’t I? Why do my kids get the failure.”

They shake their head and tell me to “shut the fuck up and stop being a victim” but I am not having it.

“I am not saying I am victim. I always figure it out and I know I will get another job but damn, what is up with this.”

We split a moment of silence five ways and then revelation comes.

“You need to go back to writing. Why are you in sales? Writing is what you do best and what you have always done.”

I nod my head because he is right.

The Future Becomes The Present

Confession: I have never read a Hemingway story in its entirety.  That is not for any particular reason, just worked out that way but because of his success as a writer I have paid attention to his quotes and because they resonate with me.

I listened to the guys and focused on my writing and that is how I am known now. It is not just how I describe myself but how others describe me and that makes me happy.

But I haven’t quite made it to the place I want to get to. There are stories to be told and if the blog is any proof people like reading them.

They look at Maybe A Gun Would Have Helped and tell me they want to know what happened. So I know I am not the only one who believes I have that great book(s) inside of me but even if I was I would still run this particular dream down.

In part it is because one of the greatest joys in life is reading a story that you don’t want to finish because you hate to say goodbye to it.

That story lives inside of me and I have come to believe that the great writers who produce such tales do so because of their ability to touch the joy and sorrow of their own lives and share it with the readers.

I have the joy and the sorrow or so I told my son.

As we walked the dog through the neighborhood and talked about life I listened to him talk about his dreams and shared some of mine.

Dreams Deferred and Fulfilled

I told him I believed the challenges and successes of the past would provide for us all. It would give us the experience to know we had the strength to withstand the challenges and an appreciation for the good times as well as the bad.

It would help us navigate the moments between dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled.

During the middle of our walk I listened to his stories and wondered if he would be like me and measure himself against my life. I wondered what his assessment would be and thought about how far we have all come since the day the boys and I sat around that table.

When he asked me if I ever felt like I had failed I nodded my head and said more than once.

“But every time I have fallen down I have gotten back up because lying down is not an option for us.”

He nodded his head and as we continued down the road I wondered again how do you describe a successful father.

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4 Comments

  1. Larry June 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Confession – I’ve read multiple Hemingway stories/books, and I don’t particularly love them. Plus, he wasn’t that nice of a person.

    • Jack June 14, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      I have heard similar things about Hemingway but I figure it never hurts to learn what I can from writers who have made it or at least are “venerated” as being among the best.

  2. Sebastian Aiden Daniels June 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    This was a touching post. It can be hard to describe but I like the quote you have at the end, “But every time I have fallen down I have gotten back up because lying down is not an option for us.” You have never given up on your family. That is one key attribute of a successful father in my book. Happy Father’s Day when it comes!

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