Sunday, June 16, 2013
I know what happens next.
You should know upfront, yes, I am one of those obnoxious people who mentions NPR all the time.
It's not because I think it's some sort of insignia that lets people know I'm smart or trying to pretend to be smart, but because genuinely, I've gotten so much from the year I've spent listening to NPR. I never want to go back to regular radio again. It's among the best things that's ever happened to me.
But anyway, with it being father's day, they had different men talking about fatherhood across different cultures. Something that resonated with each of the men was Homer Simpson. I kind of loved the fact that each of these men felt that Homer represented their own incompetence as fathers but that if there's something positive to be said of Homer, it's that he is, in fact, dedicated to his family.
Initially, listening to these men reminded me of my own dad.
He taught me how to read and when I'd finally started getting the hang of things, I didn't have the heart to tell him how many English words he was mispronouncing during our bed time stories (English is his second language).
He worked really hard to provide for us. Having himself had a father who was always around but who, my dad felt, could have done more to financially support the family, my dad did the opposite. He was always working, always gunning to be his bosses' favorite, and often took jobs hours away because they paid more. My dad can't understand now why my brother is sometimes resentful that my dad deployed to Afghanistan two weeks before my brother's very anticipated graduation from college when he had an opportunity to wait. My dad believes that this was the most strategic move for his career, and in turn, for his family.
At 19, my dad got my mother pregnant. She was 28 and wanted the baby. They married. My mom brought expectations to their marriage that would have been reasonable were she marrying someone closer to her own age. She was continually disappointed in my father for his lack of maturity and carried these resentments with her over the subsequent decades of their union.
My dad & my brother fought.
My dad was working 3 hours out of town and got an apartment in that area because commuting was more expensive and wearing him out. While my dad was away, my brother would get himself into all kinds of shenanigans that my dad would make him answer for when he came home on weekends. In some ways, their dynamic reminds me of that of Bart & Homer. There were a lot of growing pains, to say the least.
In my younger years, and admittedly still sometimes now, I could be too much for my mom to handle. My dad was left to awkwardly coach me through some difficult times in my life: my first period, my first break ups, getting period blood on my jeans and needing someone to bring me an outfit in the middle of the day. My dad bumbled and stumbled through these events uncomfortably but I'd like to think that I always appreciated his efforts.
I wonder now if my dad looks back on these things and feels like he was incompetent?
I think my dad is a great dad. He's my favorite person and he's my best friend. I don't know anyone who treats people better than my dad. He is very literally my hero. I know that he always did his best and did what he thought was right & that's all anyone can really ask of a parent.
When I was in college & The Simpsons Movie came out, I remember Matt Groening did an interview with Playboy where he said Bart would grow up to face legal troubles and various substance addiction problems. In my real life, my own Bart grew up to do pretty well because of his hard-headed-ness as a kid.
Some things never change: my dad and my mom and still divided by sea of resentments and anger. My dad and my brother are working on their relationship. I'm okay.
I'd like to think of us as The Simpsons and think we're all going to be okay, as a family, we have to be: we're America's sweet hearts!
I recall an episode of The Simpsons where Bart finds some eggs outside and decides to raise them to hatching. When the eggs hatch, instead of birds, the hatch-lings are lizards. It is soon discovered by Springfield community members that the particular species the lizards belong to are the natural predators of birds and are responsible for the extinction of several bird species. The community members want to take and kill Bart's lizards. Bart pleads to Marge to help him protect his lizards and says something to the effect of, "haven't you ever known something was bad but you looked past that and loved it anyway?" And Marge, of course, knows exactly what he means. Her son is a trouble maker but she loves him, nonetheless. She helps Bart.
To me, my family are like these lizards; we all have our short comings, we are dysfunctional and dysfunctional as a unit. But we love each other, anyway.