Reality Bites by James A. Norton

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Happy Father’s Day – unless you were a miserable douche, then go kill yourself.

I know, I know…a little extreme, but, when you think about it – sometimes the punishment fits the crime. I’m tired and cranky as I write this, so it might seem a little more abrasive than normal. I will apologize in advance for that. But first, the good stuff.

Every once in a while, I would wonder if was as good a father as I could have been to my kids, who will be 20 and 21 in a little over a month. I wonder if I did a decent job, given the circumstances. Trying to be a father to two kids who lived over 2,000 miles away was challenging, and quite frankly, sometimes it was easier than you think to have the whole “out of sight, out of mind” mentality – from me as well as from my kids.

I resolved myself to the kids moving far away – putting my head down and being a semi-responsible adult. I tried to not work too much, stay in touch with them, pay child support and whatever extra their mother needed me to, visit them (sometimes completely out of the blue) and have them come spend their summers and holidays with me – they even both lived with me (separately) before they were 20 yrs old. I have very few bad memories of this time period – other than missing them every day and the occasional teenager bullshit from far away. And oh yeah, the politics of kids and two parents who don’t really like interacting with each other. Can’t forget that.

I did the best I could, and maybe I could have been a better father over the years, but I can’t look back – all I can do is look forward. My ex-wife and my kids have told me I was a good father, which is all I could have ever hoped for. I might be hard on or critical of myself at times, but that’s my prerogative. I might not talk or interact with my kids everyday, but they know that I love them, and that’s a good thing.

I look at my own situation, as an only child, and I wonder what went wrong? Why did my father turn out to be such a low-life? My wife says it has nothing to do with me, because it’s not supposed to go backwards – the parents are supposed to worry about and wonder if their kids will turn out alright, and you should never, ever have to wonder about how your own parents will turn out or if they will betray you. I never saw it coming, even with his unfortunate behavior over the years. Such is life.

So here I sit, writing this, looking back – and I can’t be angry or hurt anymore by the aforementioned situation because you are a product of your environment. Unless of course you recognize your own patterns, your own behavior and make a conscious decision to stop the cycle – to adapt to a new way of thinking. So I say to those who have kids out there, whose parent/parents weren’t the standard-bearers of good parenting when they were young – be better than that. Nurture your children’s development, not be in competition with them, or worse yet, be jealous of them for whatever reason. Don’t put them down and make a point of illustrating their shortcomings, but help them be better than you ever could have been. Teach them how to talk to people with respect and have a sense of morality – so they can be ready whenever they themselves one day have children. Let them be happy and turn into good natured young men and women, because karma, as you know, will always bite you in the ass someday.

I have my days when I am unsure about who I am, where I came from and where I am going – that’s life, but I make a conscious decision to be better than a self-loathing jackass who lives to make other people’s lives miserable. They say misery is wasted on the miserable – I say let them be miserable in their lonely lives, in their empty heads and heartless souls – but wish them a good day and move on.

I am blessed to have a close group of very good, very loyal friends in my life and I cherish them. I have a wife who loves me unconditionally and is always supportive – she is not just the love of my life, but truly my best friend – she is one of the smartest people I have ever met and I am incredibly lucky that she wants to grow old with me. She is my rock, no doubt. Last, but certainly not least, my kids Corey and Kaitlin – they are always there when I reach out to see how they’re doing, to see if they need anything that I might be able to offer my advise or help with.

I have promised my kids that I will not be that guy – that parent with issues who transfers them onto everyone else without taking responsibility and getting some help. That’s a promise I intend to keep – I will keep trying every day to be the best father to my kids that I can be and an awesome grandfather to my soon to be born grandchild. Fathers Day is supposed to be about honoring your father (or mother in some cases) – but for me – it’s a chance to make sure that I am being the best father I can be, the best husband I can be and the best man I can be. Errry day, errry day.

Now put down this newspaper and go call your kids and tell them you love them. I am dialing right now. Happy Father’s Day to all my friends who are fathers and for those mothers who pulled double-duty as both mom and dad. Enjoy the day. #GMK

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