My Dad had this saying when I was growing up that stayed with me. He would say “it’s quality, not quantity”. I always always thought he was talking about my love of K-Mart vs. his love of David Jones (back then it was Aherns in Perth).
For whatever reason, I was thinking about that this morning, and thought I’d write an open letter to the good guys. The Dads out there who might be like my Dad.
Specifically, the Dad’s doing the co parenting gig.
The Dads who cop a ridiculous amount of crap from their exes, despite doing their best with the time and resources they have. Dads like my Faux Bro. Maybe you have a Faux Bro, too, or maybe you have a regular bro. If you read this, and you think it might help him, pass it on.
Anyway, I thought maybe you might like to know what it’s like for a kid who had one of those Dads. I was one of those kids. I thought maybe you might like to know what that kid grew up to think. And, I hope, given the rates of depression in our men, that this might just give you something to focus on, and that you should fight for you, as your kids will need you well into adult hood. Take it from a daughter who lost her Dad at 29.
Daughters will want you there to walk them down the aisle. Sons will want you there to see them play footy, or ask advice on girls, how to shave, and who knows what else – I’m not a bloke, so I really can’t comment. I can only guess the stuff that my son will need.
So, let me tell you a story about my Dad.
My Dad was not perfect. Like all of us, he was flawed. He drank. He smoked. I chopped up more cartons of Benson & Hedges than you could count in a bid to stop him smoking, and he never told me off. He was never hurt by that action. He was, however, very hurt by the actions of my mother. And sometimes, a dark cloud would cross the dry humour filled facial landscape of the happy man and that hurt would seep out on a Sunday afternoon. Generally it would start to seep before we were shuffled back home in the post divorce second hand red Kingswood.
Yep. We were an every second weekend deal. From the age of somewhere between 5 and 6, “see you every day, Dad!” became “see you every second weekend, Dad”. Reasons that a somewhere between 5 and 6 year old didn’t quite get. During this painful transition, something else happened when he became every second weekend Dad. I didn’t understand it. But, I loved him for it. I still do – even though he is no longer here.
You see, my Dad was magic.
I didn’t know how to tell him at the time that he was, but he was. It took me until early adulthood to figure out he was magic. And I get the feeling, that if you are a good guy, you are most likely creating magic, too. Even if you don’t know it, you wonder if your kids know it, I can tell you – it is slowly growing in their hearts and minds with that every second weekend love.
Picture this, if you will.
A mid 30’s man goes to a children’s park on the foreshore. He is not very fit. He has a beer gut, wears ill fitting beige trousers and a shirt. He climbs a pole that has a large round ball on top and a bell inside. It’s probably about 10 meters high. Maybe 15. He hides two Mars Bars inside. This is probably at 6:30am. He then hops back in his post divorce second hand red kingswood wagon and drives 30 minutes to pick up his somewhere between 5 and 6 year old and her younger sister
He then takes his somewhere between 5 and 6 year old and her younger sister to the park and suggests climbing the Bell to see if they can ring it. It’s quite a feat, but with a bit of a helping hand from Dad, we both make it to the top.
Out pops a Mars Bar!
“How did that get there?”
“Don’t know, he replies – must be magic.”
We’d ooh and ah and wonder why other kids didn’t know about this magic at the park.
The adventures would continue. Getting lost on some road trip. Making an 80’s version of a Mad Dentist podcast with an electric can opener and a tape recorder. Jumping off a certain hill out at Point Peron, or skipping out of the bushes at a park at certain times of the year ( an annual event that went well into my teen years & became kinda embarrasing) only to discover he was secretly making a time lapse video of us growing up.
All these little things, based on quality time over quantity. All these little things, seeds planted long ago that had the chance to grow into beauty. The life lesson which reminds me constantly to look for and cherish the good in people (as flawed as that may be, as it’s not free of hurt) over constantly looking at their flaws and faults.
I guess, faux bros, what I want you to know is this. We all make mistakes. Sometimes the dream doesn’t work out. Mine didn’t. But, as my daughter pointed out on her little quote jar, “just because the past didn’t work out how you wanted, doesn’t mean the future can’t be more than you imagine.” She’s a wise kid. My Dad would have loved her. Luckily, her Dad does.
Luckily, I know the post divorce war territory from a child’s perspective. Peace is better than persecution – from either side.
Partnering is different to parenting.
If the partnership (for whatever reason) didn’t work, it does not make either of you a bad person for the rest of your life. It does not preclude you, or me, from deserving happiness. It certainly does not make you a bad father. So, please, hold on to the good guy that you are.
My Dad was right. It’s quality, not quantity that matters.