Do You Love Me, Dad?

dad-angry

So, I finally figured out my dad loved me. (Why are guys’ relationship with their dads so complicated?)  It wasn’t when I wanted to find out, twenty years after my dad died. But, hey, better late than never, right? Still, if I could have done it any other way…

My wife and I were kissing our kids goodnight after twenty minutes of their diddling around: drinks of water, bathroom runs, the clearing of real and imaginary obstacles: glow-in-the-dark sneakers, dragon poop (don’t ask). They were finally in bed.

I began the benedictions. For Beth it was, “I love you more than insert-increasingly-huge-object here.” At the moment it was “the Milky Way.” For Mandy it was, “I’ll never stop loving you.” Only lately she’d started cutting me off with, “Yeah, I know, Dad.” I needed a new line.

Finally, Trudy and I did our own bedtime rituals, hit the lights, and assumed spoon drawer positions.

And then it began:

Titter, titter, titter.

“Honey,” Trudy whispered.

“Get back in bed!” I yelled. The titters stopped. Little feet thumpa-thumped back into their room. We started to drift off again.

Titter, titter, titter.

“You heard Daddy!” Trudy shouted.

Silence.

Drifting.

Almost asleep.

Thumpa, thump, titter, titter, titter.

“Last time!” Trudy warned. “Get back in bed and stay there!” Even I was scared.

We’d almost made it to slumberland when the thumps and titters resumed.

It was an unusually bad night.

“OK, that’s it!” I shouted. I leaped from the bed. Ran out the door. Down the hall and into the kid’s room. Just in time to see the covers wafting down onto their beds and hear the springs squeaking frantically. And then I lost it. I shouted. Not in that controlled “parent” way like my wife did. More like an erupting volcano:

“Don’t you dare get out of those beds again! Do you hear me?”

Brittle, terrifying silence.

“Do! You! Hear! Me?”

Deafening silence.

And then, the worst sound in the universe: the sound of children cryingnot ordinary kid-crying, but the sound of children crying out of fear. Fear that I had created, that I, their father, had created. Because I was mad. In both senses of the word: Angry. And crazy. Because these were–are–two of the three humans I loved most in the universe.

My dad had this anger thing. He’d go along for weeks or months at a time, and then something would set him off, and he’d detonate. Like an atom bomb. He scared the you-know-what out of me. But you know what I hated most about it?

That I caught it from him.

I looked down at Mandy and Beth, crying in the dark, and I suddenly knew two things: I never wanted them to be afraid of me. Ever. And I never wanted them to doubt my love. Ever. So I got down on my knees between their beds and asked God to forgive me.

Then I asked Beth and Mandy to forgive me.

Mandy crawled out of bed and put her skinny little arm over my shoulder and said, “I forgive you, Daddy…and I know you’ll never stop loving me.” Then Beth was there, crying because Mandy was crying, and she said, “I love you universes and universes full!”

There was a third thing I knew that night–really knew–for the first time ever: That my dad loved me. Because for about five minutes I was him, all anger and self-loathing, and I suddenly realized that, along with his anger, I got his love. And I knew that he would have died a thousand deaths for me, just like I would for my kids.

Because he loved me.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔do-you-love-me-dad_340_340

Pastors, Teachers, and Actors: The above is a personal account, but you can download a performable script version by clicking here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Do You Love Me, Dad?

  1. What an emotional post. Excuse me, I think I have something in my eye 😢

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pkadams says:

    Teared up. Why is anger so damn contagious ?!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Praise God our children (and spouses) are so forgiving of our blunders, thoughtless reactions, and even fits of temper–IF we simply humble ourselves and admit our missteps. The final result is truly miraculous, as your anecdote illustrates: love expands with the apologies, to fill universes and universes. Great post, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mitch, its powerful and it nailed me……in my heart. thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve come to believe that we must learn to forgive ourselves before we can fully appreciate the love in others. This beautiful post just reminded me of that. Thank you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. smzang says:

    I still can not read this with dry eyes.
    …but always with a glad heart. You taught
    your girls so much with that simple apology.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I caught the anger bug from a parent, too. Very shortly after I became a disciple of the Lord, I asked Him to break the cycle and heritage of anger by stopping it with me. He did – by moving us and our very young family away from any of our extended families. And it took time. And prayer. And I still relapse from time to time. But thanks be to God, my kids have been spared a life of constant simmering with erratic flares. And they are much more cool-headed than I was at their ages.

    I now pray it will be even less in their future families.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Powerful story my friend. Thanks for putting this out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. atimetoshare.me says:

    We never know until we walk in their shoes. My dad was the same and it took me years of parenting and growing old to realize it. I still loved him universes and universes full too. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. John Eli says:

    Hope you are happy that you made this grown man cry. I think I need a hug or something now. 😢
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, Mitch… you had me laughing and crying both. Powerful post! Love it. Nothing more to say. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for this post that says so much about being a parent and loving our children, even in our imperfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. joyroses13 says:

    OH gosh! Thanks for making my eyes water! Heart felt beautiful post, that I know many parents will identify with! Thank you for sharing from your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. nancyehead says:

    That story is so great because it is so real. Transparency helps us all to understand ourselves so much more. Thank you! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gpavants says:

    Mitch,

    We learn from our parents. Isn’t that how the Lord is great? He gives us opportunity that He guides us through that our parents did not.

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Omgosh! You made me cry!💕

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on All The Shoes I Wear and commented:
    A post today that both made me cry and warmed my heart! One grear father and husband.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. So very true. I found that once you have children you understand SO much more. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. hazalse says:

    This is beautiful, takes a real dad to share such a story so gracefully. It made me think about the times my parents tell me “you’ll know it for yourself when you become a parent” :). Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Twinkletoes says:

    My heart is with you and I admire your honesty. Parenting is the most difficult job on the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. revruss1220 says:

    Love this! Parenting has a way of humbling us like nothing else can. Thanks for sharing your gift with the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ann Coleman says:

    That was so honest and so powerful, Mitch! And believe me, I can relate to every word. I have come to believe that we really can pass on the best of what our parents gave us, and leave the rest behind, where it belongs. We just need to want to badly enough. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. carhicks says:

    Mitch that is such a powerful, moving story with a very important message. Every time I lost my temper with my children, I ended up in tears and asking for forgiveness as well as strength to control my temper. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: Father’s Dud? | Mitch Teemley

  25. I think we can carry this over to our heavenly Father, as well. Even when He is disciplining us and we are hurting from the consequences of our own behavior, we can know that He loves us with an everlasting love.

    Liked by 1 person

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