Being a father is the best - and the worst

By DAVID GUSTAFSON,

My father worked a lot when I was a kid. We didn’t play catch in the backyard. We didn’t go to the movies together. He rarely - if ever - helped me with my homework.

Instead, he worked multiple jobs to make sure we always had the things we needed.

Most of the time, it might not have been what we wanted, but it was always what we needed.

He often went without things for himself. He gave up sleep. He gave up friendships. He gave up practically everything for his family and yet, in all of those years of working all of those hours and sacrificing so much, I never once heard him complain.

When I became a father for the first time 20 years ago, I told myself I would emulate the best things about him and run as fast as possible from the things I hated about him.

I’m pretty sure that’s what every new father tries to do.

Lucky me, I succeeded.

And I failed.

And in the process, I managed somehow to simultaneously inherit the best - and worst - traits of my father. I think that’s how it usually works.

I try to work hard.

I try to stay engaged in the lives of my sons.

I try to be kind to people. I try to walk the same line that generations of men before me have tried to walk.

And it’s the same line my sons will try to walk should they choose to have children of their own some day.

It’s hard and most days, it’s heartbreaking.

This Father’s Day, I’m grateful beyond words for the sacrifices my father has made for our family.

I’m thankful for his love and for his patience and for his words of encouragement during the last few years.

He is going to celebrate his 80th birthday in a few weeks and as I think about his many accomplishments, I’m awestruck at how he managed to keep it all together.

This Father’s Day, I’m also thankful for the many blessings I have been given during the course of the last 20 years of being a father myself.

My four sons have taught me more about life than I ever could have imagined was possible and I love them dearly.

And despite how they might feel about me at times, I’m so very, very proud to call them my own.

Here’s to all of the fathers out there. May each of you enjoy a day that includes being showered with homemade confetti and styrofoam packing peanuts.

Gustafson is the not-so-mild-mannered editor and publisher of The PineBelt NEWS.