When I put up a post to try an get people involved in my Childhood series I thought no one would come forward but when Becky asked if she could join in I jumped at the chance. I don’t know Becky very well I have been following her on Instagram for just a few months now, but I feel like after reading her story I have been right there through her whole journey to being a mum. Many of us can relate to Becky’s story as we have all lost a love one who we might not think was an angel but to lose a parent is a hard battle. This view from Becky is honest, heartfelt and I am honoured to share her story with you.
Since becoming a parent myself there are many lessons I have learnt along the way. It’s a rite of passage that we all encounter as we enter the complete unknown with no true preparation. However the most important lesson I have learnt is from my Father, and that’s without him even meeting his grandson.
My father passed away when I was 23, after a long and horrendous battle with his health despite him being the healthiest and most active man I’ve ever known. This isn’t the tale of his passing nor of my constant overwhelming sense of wishing he was here to experience my family. It’s a tale that will hopefully be relatable to you all, and to give an insight into why we need to be kinder to ourselves and each other.
My father was my idol when I was younger, I was the epitome of a ‘Daddy’s Girl’. He was fun, exciting, never said no to me, creative and protective. He worked very hard as a chef and then as a teacher making our time together limited by the hard working dedicated employee that he was. However when we did have time together it was worth the wait. He would paint with me, take me on long bike rides, teach me about food, danced with me and make me repeatedly listen to every Dire Straits song there ever was.
However I know from some of my own memories, combined with the realisations of reality as I grew older that he wasn’t the perfection I knew. My mother was his third wife, I was his seventh child and even then he still committed adultery. He didn’t raise his six other children, he spent money like it was his last day on this earth and drummed up a huge amount of debt. He had a temper that combined with my mother’s meant for horrendous arguments that made me cry myself to sleep. As an adult I can completely see his failings, I’m angry at him for being able to leave his children and not be a part of their lives. He had to work so hard to pay his debtors and that’s why I sometimes went months without seeing him when he worked away. He was, and lived like everyone else. A human being trying to make his way in the world, albeit with errors.
As my father grew older and he had separated from my mother, he made contact and very luckily amends with all of his children. This however was bittersweet. One of his daughters fell ill with bowel cancer at the age of 31. It transpired from this that as a family we had a cancer gene that stemmed from my father. This is when he too found out he had bowel cancer and his long journey to peace began. From learning this tragic news and having to watch all of children undergo genetic counselling, he never once let it destroy him, he never once felt sorry for himself and still he continued to grow his fatherly relationships with all of his children until he was no longer of this world.
The reason I’ve given different accounts and perspectives of my father is to reiterate the biggest lesson we all need to learn as humans, parents, non-parents and as individuals.
Every human makes mistakes. Everything we do in this world compromises something else. If you return to work full time as a parent you worry you’re letting your children down by not being with them, if you don’t work then you’re worried you’re not providing enough. If you argue with your spouse you are then wracked with guilt, if you don’t then you’re in the minority! You worry about cuddling too much, whether you’re doing enough interactive stimulating play, if you should visit more historical sites….the list is endless. The guilt is endless. The divided opinions are endless. The worries are endless. The struggle is endless. BUT. And it’s a big but….in the end none of it matters.
My father made a huge amount of mistakes, he was a bastard to some people, he was amazing to some, but in the end all that mattered was who he was to me when he was with me. My memories are the father that mattered. Nothing else to me matters. He made mistakes, he wasn’t always someone to be proud of but I remember the father he was.
I want you to all take from this to be kinder to yourself. The paths you choose, the mistakes you make, none of it matters in the end. Your relationships are what matter. Even if you’ve done wrong by them, there’s always time to rectify situations. But particularly as patents, the only thing that will matter is the memories we create. They require no money, no stress, no perfection and are limitless. Even as a 23 year old that had just lost her Dad, and even now as a 28 year old parent that misses her Dad immensely, I’m constantly transported back to making clay pots, naming our hamster, buying my mum live crickets for Christmas and dancing to Dire bloody Straits.
So stop with the guilt, stop with the aim of perfection, stop the worry and just live your life knowing that your children don’t care who you are to the rest of the world, how much you work, how much you earn, whether you have hundreds of friends or whether you’re an introvert, they just care that you’re their parent, and that’s the best honour in the world.