The Lesson of Fairness

I learned a lot from my father. And I felt like I had a whole world of knowledge still to learn from him when he left this earth as I whispered to him that I was ready. But every once in a while, he pops back in to teach me a thing or two because he knew good and well that I wasn’t ready.

When people ask, “How does it feel being a father?” there are one of two things you can immediately ascertain by their query. Either they are super far-removed from being a dad and are curious about how it is in this day and age. Or, alternatively, they’re in the thick of it and think it’s just as {expletive deleted} hard as you do. They want someone to share in their misery.

I typically tell the truth when asked that question. It’s a test. A test of patience, a test of listening, a test of paying attention, a test of sleeplessness, a test of selflessness.  It’s like the hardest test any man could ever take on, yet as men, we’re almost all given the opportunity to take it. There’s no prep course, no tutors, no internships that could get you ready for the real thing. You just simply one day are “dad”. Too many men are overwhelmed by this word and leave. Those of us that stay must suffer the consequences.

Today, I was throwing myself a pity party in my head, full of lots of thoughts with “I’s”, like “I have to unpack all this {expletive deleted}. And I have to feed the {expletive deleted} cat in the middle of the night just to do the same {expletive deleted} thing with Emerson in a few hours.”

Not that it doesn’t occur to me that I just ripped Jess away from her hometown surrounded by all her family and in a beautiful house in a neighborhood we love. I remember that. And I remember that she’s also letting the cat out, feeding Emerson, doing her job and still making time to buy me new house shoes online because this {expletive deleted} floor in this old house is like I’m walking barefoot on the counter at Marble Slab creamery but with no delicious bowl to eat afterwards.

So as I sip my nightcap before bed on NYE in this new season in life that is incredibly demanding, I’m also reminded of my dad. It’s maybe 10 PM and I fall asleep thinking about him.

In my dream I’m a school kid again. My dad is on some school board that has just decided to put into place a uniform system. But the uniform system doesn’t make any sense. I can wear my gray Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt with black pants, but I can’t wear my black Led Zeppelin long-sleeve with jeans. There’s no explanation and on campus there’s a bus that’s constantly driving around giving out “school appropriate” attire to change into as they see students violating these nonsensical rules.

Being the man that I am, I feel as though I have to speak up. I hate rules that don’t make sense. So I climb aboard one of these moving buses to find all these men tossing garments out these blacked out windows of this infinite bus trip. They look miserable. Indentured servitude, I’d say. And there amongst all the confused, old workers is my dad. Black Sabbath hoodie in his hand about to toss it out to a kid wearing a coat and tie, I demand he answer for this atrocity. He looks at me and says, “You think you’re the only {expletive deleted} who isn’t happy about this bull {expletive deleted}, Son?”

I turn around with a smile on my face to depart the still-moving bus. I exclaim, “Good. As long as we’re both on the same page that this sucks together, I’m happy.” Misery indeed loves company.

I woke up thrilled to have seen my dad again, of course. And I am so thankful that he reminded me that I’m not in this alone. That this test is a {expletive deleted}, but it doesn’t have to be my test. It’s our test. And left in the capable hands of a higher power, this too shall pass.

Emerson Kate, when you read this one day, please take this one to heart. Parenthood is no joke. Build a foundation first, in yourself and your partner. Then decide when to have a little one when you’re ready… if you still want to after reading all these posts over the years. I promise I have only almost killed you once, and it was a total accident.

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