When my husband Alan and I were dating, he spent at least as much time courting Ed, my five year old, as he did building a relationship with me. He devoted hours on end to doing artwork with my little boy, not to mention running beside him as he learned to ride his two-wheeler.
Courting my son turned out to be an extremely successful strategy. Not only did I marry this lovely man, but to this day, he and my son Ed have a wonderful relationship.
My husband’s attentive, loving parenting to both of our children has always inspired me. Best of all, our now adult sons are wonderful fathers in their own right. And the attached video of Ed running bedside his little boy on his bike brings back so many happy memories.
When it comes to having an involved father, I wasn’t as lucky. Don’t get me wrong. I adored and admired my brilliant, successful father. He passed on many gifts to me, including my work ethic and love of learning. But he lived for his career and didn’t have a lot of time to give to his daughters. Moreover, he had very specific scripts for our lives that he pressured us to follow, regardless of our interests and passions.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how my struggles with my father have seeped into my fiction. In my novel, While I Danced, Cass’s father doesn’t approve of her dancing and doesn’t like to talk about her mother. Suffice it to say I can relate. And in It Should Have Been You, Clara has spent her life living in the shadow of her piano prodigy twin. While I didn’t have one of those, I did have an older sister who was beautiful, brilliant, and the undisputed star of our family system. And in my forthcoming novel, Leisha’s Song, Leisha’s grandfather has an entire script planned out for her life which has little to do with what she wants to pursue—definitely a scenario I’m familiar with.
Conflicts and problems are, of course, the lifeblood of fiction, which is undoubtedly why we fiction writers draw upon the troubling relationships we’ve experienced or observed.
But in real life, the relationships based on unselfish love and listening fill me with a sense of wonder. And on this Father’s Day and every day, I celebrate all caring dads who make time for their kids and encourage them to follow their own dreams. They are real life heroes making an amazing difference in their children’s lives.
Happy Father’s Day!