Happy birthday, Dad?

Today is my dad’s birthday.

It seems like such a simple day wouldn’t bring me so much anguish and frustration, but after all this time…it still does. I wish I didn’t care, but I still do. The question is, what do I do about it?

I posted on his facebook page (that he never logs onto and probably forgot about). Does that absolve me from my duties as a child? To be fair, I can’t remember the last time my dad wished me a happy birthday. I don’t think he even knows when my birthday is. I’m just one more child…the last of his seven daughters, the offspring of wife number five or so, the one child who never even lived with him.

Still, he’s my dad.

He’s getting up there in years, and I know he doesn’t have many birthdays left. I’ll miss him when he’s gone. Hell, I’ve missed him for the past 39 years. We’ve tried to reconcile on multiple accounts but…it’s always so damn awkward. He wants to talk about politics and religion and I just want him to care enough to try to get to know me.

Me. The daughter he’s never known. This sucks so hard.

So here I am, struggling somewhere between the desire to be a better person and exhaustion from trying and caring about that relationship for so long. It’s crazy-difficult to forge a relationship and even a basic conversation with a stranger. So difficult, in fact, that I’d rather write a blog post than pick up the phone and call him.

I don’t know what to do, so I’m just gonna leave this cute little picture of a Happy Birthday wish here and hope it’s enough.  Happy birthday, Dad. Maybe next year we’ll talk.



Parents who make the team

Tonight I witnessed something amazing.

My husband, Mel, and I were at a school game, watching our twelve-year-old son play the third game of his first ever basketball season. Isaac made his first in-game shot, a two-pointer, so I cupped my hands over my mouth and cheered as loudly as I could.

On the way home, Isaac said, “Mom, after I hit that basket, I turned around and all I could see was you freaking out.” He even mimicked my gestures.

I promptly informed him he was going to have to deal with it, because I’d always be cheering for him.

He got this weird look on his face and said, “You didn’t embarrass me.”

My heart swelled. I really freaking love that kid.

But none of that was the amazing scene I witnessed.

When I got to the game, I sat beside my friend Kim. We’re football moms together, but her son plays basketball for the opposing team. Regardless, you better believe that every time Isaac had the ball, Kim cheered him on. But here’s the weird thing… beyond my son, and her son, Kim cheered for her son’s entire team.

Every single one of them.

And it wasn’t like she was cheering for numbers. We didn’t have programs, but Kim knew each child on her son’s team by name. She cheered when they made shots and when they got interceptions (ahem, steals. Apparently they’re called steals in basketball). She even encouraged the boys when they missed shots.

My friend Kim is crazy-busy. She works full-time, her son is always playing at least one sport (sometimes two and she has to juggle practices with her work schedule), and she’s edited my last two books. But despite all the things she has going on, she memorized all of the kids’ names, because it was important to her to cheer them on.

Hear this… they are part of her son’s team, so Kim sees them as part of her team.

How wild is that?

You see, the reason my husband and I put our son in football in third grade was because we wanted him to learn the value of being part of a team. We wanted him to be part of something bigger than himself. Something fun and challenging, that taught him to listen to instructions, and value the team’s needs above his own. That’s what it means to be a team.

But tonight, Kim reminded me – as parents – we also have a job in our child’s team. If we don’t teach them (by showing them, not just telling them) how to cheer for their fellow teammates, who will?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a list of names – Isaac’s teammates – to memorize.