As much as I know you all want to hear the story about driving from Texas to Alabama, it's Father's Day. So today's post is dedicated to all the great dads out there including my own, my husband, and my father-in-law. The Driving 13 1/2 hours with 4 kids and a dog will have to wait a day or 2, but I will tell it -- promise.
My dad raised me with a firm hand, a strong sense of humor and a healthy dose of sarcasm. Thanks to my dad, I learned early on that life is not fair. Wait....let me rephrase that -- I BEGAN learning that life is not fair at an early age, because even at 37 I sometimes need to be reminded of that. I am pretty sure that my dad said "Life's not fair" to me at least twice a day for 18-20 years. When I was 8 years old, I wanted to have a Halloween party and my parents said that I could. I immediately began imagining elaborate costumes and decorations complete with black fabric draping the walls, a coffin to use as a table for snacks, and most importantly DRY ICE. It was essential for any good Halloween party to have copious amounts of spooky smoke on the floor. I went to my dad with my plans and he (of course) laughed at me. I began to scream and wail about how it wasn't fair. I had seen Halloween parties on television and they had strobe lights and fake skeletons and SMOKE ON THE FLOOR!! I HAD to have smoke on the floor, it wasn't fair. My dad told me (not the first or last time) that life's not fair. I had my party. It was at 2:00 in the afternoon. We bobbed for apples and ate donuts off of strings suspended from the ceiling. There were no strobe lights and no dry ice, but we still managed to have a good time. To this day, my family still teases me about my "smoke on the floor" party plans. I feel a little sorry for my dad having me as a kid because Bella is ten times worse than I ever was on the whole drama level. I foresee MANY requests for "smoke on the floor" parties from Bella in my future. I will try to do what my dad did for me -- teach her that life isn't all about YOU and that you have so very much to be thankful for even if life isn't fair.
Because I had such a strong example of what a loving husband and father was supposed to be it was not difficult for me to recognize those same characteristics in my own husband. I was blessed to find a man who shares my vision for our family and who is willing to put up with my often neurotic behavior and still share in the parental responsibilities. Anyone who reads my blog knows I am half nuts most of the time and my kids are crazier than me -- it takes a very special man to put up with this crew. He works a job he doesn't like very much to support our family of 6, backs me up, picks up as much of the load at home as he can, shares my sense of humor, and most importantly, lets me and our kids know that we are loved. He is a wonderful husband and father and I am blessed to have him in my life and as father to our kids. He reminds me, and helps to teach our kids that life is not fair, but that it is a gift -- everyday.
With my husband came his family. While they are (like the rest of us) far from perfect, they are perfect for us. My father-in-law is easily the hardest working man that I have ever met. He is the reason that my husband is the man that he is. He is the reason that my husband works 10-12 hours a day, often 6 days a week to support our large family. My father-in-law works 14 or more hours a day most days now that he is retired from the military. He runs his own small pool company and does remodels and repairs. He sleeps maybe 5 hours a night, and works all the time. He once finished a swimming pool with light from his truck headlights because he had promised the customer that he would finish it by that day. It did not matter to him that it had rained for 3 days straight making it impossible to work -- he had given his word, and if it was at all humanly possible, he was going to keep it. My in-laws are Puerto Rican. You need to know this to properly envision this next story. I was working in an office when my husband and I first got married. I do not do well in office environments full of other women. Very few women can handle my personality. I'm smart, I'm loud, I'm outspoken, and I'm sarcastic. Most women don't like that -- they prefer other women to be as fake as they are. So after dinner one night at my in-laws, I was complaining to my father-in-law about the other women in my office -- how they were nosy, busy-bodies who were gossips and I didn't want them all up in my business. I'd probably been going on for about 15 minutes. He was listening intently. When I finally stopped for a breath, he reached across the table and put his hand on top of mine, looked at me very seriously, and in his rich, thick, Puerto Rican accent said "Lemme tell you whatchoo need to do. Tomorrow, you go to work, COMPLETELY NAKED. I guarantee nobody bother you all day." I laughed for at least 30 minutes and I got over it. He was, once again, reinforcing that lesson that I so often try to resist: "Life's not fair."
If life were fair, I'd have gotten the father I deserved instead of the one who taught me humility, patience, and humor. If life were fair, I'd have gotten a husband I deserved (or no one at all) instead of one who loves and supports me and our kids. If life were fair, I'd have gotten the father-in-law I deserved instead of one who reinforces the lessons and values that I often need reminding of and that I want my kids to know. Life is NOT fair. It IS a blessing. It IS what you make of it. It IS a great ride. But it is rarely (if ever) "fair." Thank God.