Ever since I can remember, deep down, my life's goal has always been to make my father proud. He is a man of few words and even less emotion. I always knew that he wanted me to finish college. And that was the biggest motivation for me when I went back to school after Taylor was born as well as why I didn't stop attending school while I was pregnant with Charlee. I had class on Mondays and Wednesdays that semester. Attended class on a Wednesday, Charlee was born the next day and I was back in class the following Monday. I finished my prerequisites amidst a divorce and was accepted into Chico State for the Speech Disorders Program and intend to continue on to get my master's degree. All through these steps I keep taking to succeed, one memory sticks very clear in my head: I had just graduated high school, and go out to dinner with my dad right after the ceremony. At this point in my life I only saw him once or twice a year so this time was very special to me. He gives me a card that has some cash in it. The amount, I couldn't even try and remember because that wasn't what stuck in my head. He wrote on the card, "The real gift from me comes when you graduate college". That right there sent me a very strong message, my dad finds it important to see me successful. So, it became a goal. I moved to California to live with him 2 weeks later, and went to beauty school until the next semester was open for enrollment. Since then, I've hit a few bumps along the way but I feel like the fact that I haven't given up has maybe meant something to him.
It wasn't until today that I was proved very wrong. Today, my father managed, with one single phone call, to make me second guess everything I've worked so hard towards. In his offhanded way of offering 'help', which in all reality is helping him more than me, he uses the opportunity to attach a lecture fit for a child onto the end. He proceeds to tell me that I need to pull my head out of the clouds and start focusing on my children and start making smart decisions. He says that I need to stop 'flitting about' and 'throwing my money around' toward frivolous things. The 'lesson' continues on and on about how I need to think about my kids more and, in more or less words, get my life in order. Now this is where I have a beef.
At first, it really cut deep. Then, after some words of encouragement from people who are actually around and in my life enough to actually form an opinion on the matter I started to think clearly and I started to wonder....How in holy hell am I not focusing on my kids?!?! I am a single mother of three under the age of 7, I am carrying a full time class load at a state university, and I work part-time in between all the classes that I had no choice but to spread over 5 days a week. I'm doing all of this so that one day I can give my girls the kind of life that I never had. Up until now, I've never made excuses. I have always accepted the compliments that I get from people when they say they are proud of me or don't know how I do it all and I internalize it and my heart swells. It means the world to me, but I don't complain outwardly to the world about how difficult it is. And believe me, it tests my composure and sanity often enough. What gets me through those tough times though is knowing that if other people who aren't even my own father are proud of me, then he sure as hell has got to be, Right? And when I get my master's degree, which is a higher level of college that even he completed without kids, he will be beaming with pride, Right?
And secondly, how the hell am I letting him down?!? I don't 'flit' about. I sure as hell don't throw my money around. Mainly because, I DON'T HAVE ANY!! I am living an entirely different life now than I did when I was married. Back then, I was materialistic. I wanted the new shoes and the nice furniture, and jewelry. Once I split with my ex-husband, I knew I had to suck it up and do what I had to in order to scrape by and finish school. Since then, I find pleasure in small things. I just bought myself a coffee mug and after the initial guilt of how much it cost, I found myself getting as excited about my coffee mug as I did when I got that pair of $400 boots a couple years ago. And I love that about me now. It makes me sad and extremely angry that my own father is lecturing me NOW on responsible decisions. If he only knew.
I know where his information comes from too. So, in all reality my anger doesn't lie mainly with my father. I'm just extremely crushed that the pride I have worked so hard in order to see coming from my father is nonexistent. No, my anger really is with the people who can form these ideas in their head about what is going on when they never come around and then feed it to him. From a distance, it's easy to see things and make up your own little fairy tale and run with it. But where honor lies is in someone who can go to the source and ask if it really is the way they see it. But nobody has done that. No, what they do instead is call my ex-husband on a weekend that they are going to be in town and see my children while they are with him instead of their own daughter. So, by not actually coming around and being a part of my family that I am working so hard to keep together, I wouldn't spend anymore of your time making up stories about what you think I'm doing. What you don't see up there on your high horse is which parent is dressing their children appropriately for the freezing weather. Or which parent drops their child off on my porch without pants or shoes on in the middle of a temper tantrum because he is late for work all the while causing me to miss my bus. Or which parent has missed Christmas programs, back to school nights, parent teacher meetings, school pictures, etc etc etc. You don't see that I take the bus to school everyday because it's free, or that I don't heat the house when the girls aren't home, I don't eat three meals a day when I can save the food for when the girls are home. You don't see how much fun we have at the end of the day when I'm cooking a healthy meal for my kids and we are singing to the music I'm playing and the girls are giggling. You then don't see our bedtime rituals, complete with storytime. Or how this is the moment when MY studying time begins and continues until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. And you sure as hell don't see the A's that I'm getting on anatomy exams and midterms and soon to be on the finals as well.
This is not the first time that I've had insinuations thrown my way saying that I need to be a better mother. THAT is a hurtful accusation and before anyone resorts to it, they had better make sure their information they're basing it on is correct. In other words, 'If you didn't hear it with your own ears or see it with your own eyes, don't invent it with your small mind and share it with your big mouth.'
And when the day comes that I walk that fateful walk and receive that slip of paper that I have worked so hard to get, the people who believed in me and stood beside me will be the ones in my heart and putting the smile on my face.