As I have continued to look deep within my soul throughout this challenge, so too has David as we unpack our feelings surrounding it all.
While David is not one to always share his innermost thoughts, he has begun journaling about how his upbringing has shaped him. I commend David for doing this as I know some of it is painful. But he also knows that healing can only come from facing the pain head on – a lesson, he says, well learned from me. I just love him!
And on a Sunday that we like to consider family day, it is only fitting I share this excerpt. Shhhh…don’t tell him!
I have been looking back into my life – trying to remember when I was my daughter’s age. It’s tough to remember back that far, 46 years, but give it enough time and the mind will dig deep to find those very impressionable years.
Mine sent me in a spiral, hidden for years the dark days of growing up. The path paved by my parents shaped me in many ways…and not what I want to see for my daughter. My two role models could not be more opposite. My mom was bipolar, which looking this up in the dictionary that was printed in 1982 says that bipolar was pertaining to or having two poles. I guess that means the north and south poles? Add some alcohol, not just a dash but gallons, to this and a time bomb was always waiting to go off.
Then there was my dad – a successful business owner that provided for his six children. Because I was the baby of the family, you could say he splurged on me with private schooling. At age 9, I had to take third grade over because the public school I had been attending had me reading maybe at a second grade level. Thanks to my brothers and sisters for leaving the house and going out on their own, it left my dad with a few extra bucks to spend on me for a better education. After “take 2” of third grade, I was able to read and comprehend. And my eyes began to open.
I observed my dad always working and my mom, unhappy as the day was long, ready to pick a fight with my dad when he arrived home. Under the influence of the bottle most nights, she was always hiding alcohol in the closet. My job was to find it before she did and pour it down the sink. With those two choices as role models, I chose to be like my dad – a workaholic not an alcoholic.
As time has passed, I discovered that being a workaholic was not the best role model either. My dad was never around to see me play in the sports activities I participated, especially football. Not only was I the team captain but also most valuable player in 7th and 8th grade. I longed for his approval and love. And when I started my first business at the age of 12, it wasn’t pats on the back or “good job son” that I received but rather criticism from all directions.
I promised myself as time passed that if ever I have children, I would be there 100% for them each and every step. And for Gia, she is never short of pats on the back, unlimited “I love you’s”, and a lot of cheers at every basketball game, volleyball match, soccer game, dance recital, gymnastics competition or whatever makes her heart sing. And her mother has provided plenty of encouragement, love and support especially with the never ending homework each night.
If I would have had an ounce of encouragement from my mom or dad, I can only imagine the difference it would have made. After all, we are the mirrors in which our children see themselves. And those mirrors can reflect nothing or everything.