Others see us different than we see ourselves

Published 9:16 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Father’s Day is always hard for me. It makes me focus on my failures as a father. Every bit of praise enlarges my failures rather than lifts my successes. I know it’s strange, but that’s the way it is for me on Father’s Day.

Most of my children think I am a good father. I know because they say so on various occasions. I believe they really think that I am a good father. They would not lie about such a thing; they would simply not say anything. I am sure my daughters think that I am a good father. I am not as sure if my son thinks the same. There are others who say that I have been a good father to them even though we do not share the same blood line. I know they all mean what they say, but I know how much I fall short as a father. Father’s Day is always hard for me.

I am very much a father in the mold of my father. I had hoped to do differently. My father was there all during my growing up. However, he did not spend a lot of time with me or any of his 13 children. And we did not expect him to do so. I did not spend a lot of individual time with my children. I wish I had. Father’s Day is always hard for me.

My father was a hard worker. He worked on the farm before he went to his saw mill job. When he came from his job, he worked into the night, sometimes by the light of wood fires. He was always working. Even after he retired in his seventies, he picked up cans on the side of the road. I am a hard worker. I work long hours, usually seven days a week. Just as in the case of my father, hard work does not make us good fathers. Father’s Day is always hard for me.

My father was a quiet man. He did not give much advice. He did not discuss things with us children. He told us what to do, and we did it. I am quiet in my own way. I don’t give my children unsolicited advice. If they ask me, I discuss the issues with them. If they don’t ask, I let them find their own way. Father’s Day is always hard for me.

My father was a provider. He brought his check home to my mother each Friday. She paid the bills and handled financial matters for the family. My father could not read or write his own name, but he was a provider. My mother was also a provider. I think I am a provider. My wife works just as I do. However, I deposit our checks and pay the bills, but my wife does nearly all the purchasing and other such matters. I did not teach my children how to handle financial matters, just how to pay bills. One time my son Kindaka wanted me to take him to a movie. I promised that I would. However, I was in a very difficult Senate race and reneged on my commitment. My campaign slogan was Bank on Hank. He was very disappointed and angry. My children loved to hear my stories of my growing up. They especially loved the stories of struggle. I now know I was teaching them through the stories. I was teaching them the gift of struggle. Maybe I should not be so hard on myself.

We rarely if ever see ourselves as others see us. Others rarely see us as we see ourselves.