Back during Pre-Service Training (PST), we had a link session where we had to create an identity map of ourselves. It was a project to help remind us of who we are, and we kept it as a reminder of the person we are during challenging times while serving. On my identity map, I had obvious things, such as “University of Michigan”, “traveler”, and “daughter.” But I had other characteristics, like “independent” and “strong” listed as well. The difference with those words, though, was that they were on the map connected to my name by a different characteristic: “daddy’s girl.”
We’ve all grown up hearing the phrases “momma’s boy” and “daddy’s girl.” For some people, they fit. For others, they don’t. But for me, it did.
Now, don’t get me wrong, now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve had the opportunity to bond with my mom in ways I couldn’t as a kid. And I have always loved her as much as I do my dad, without a doubt. But they are also different people, and I have different relationships with both of them.
I always grew up feeling extremely close to my dad. We used to go skiing at Boyne on the weekends and take a trip to Cedar Point to ride as many rollercoasters as possible every summer. He shared my interest in sports, and he was always there to help out whenever possible. He always encouraged me to try new things and let me make my own mistakes (but he also always rubbed it in my face with an “I told you so” when something went wrong).
He was always there when my relationships with my boyfriends ended. I mean, he didn’t really know what to do most of the time, and I’m pretty sure he mostly just avoided it as much as possible. Once, he did bring a pint of ice cream and spoon down to my room, left it for me on the bed, and went back upstairs. It was probably accompanied by the phrase “there are other fish in the sea.” Once he even said “boys are like streetcars, there’s a new one every 10 minutes.” But hey, that was him.
Sometimes people thought he could be a little too harsh, and I’m sure some people even called him mean. But my dad isn’t someone to praise you just for participating. I remember one instance of this, and it’s my favorite one to tell.
I was probably in 8th grade, and I had just finished playing a basketball game. I hadn’t done terrible, but I hadn’t had a great game. After I left the locker room, I went up to my dad, and the first thing he said to me was “well, your shooting sucked tonight.” And anyone who heard the was probably like “oh my god, what a terrible thing to say to your 13 year old daughter.” But I just laughed and went, “yeah, I know.”
And that’s what I love about my dad. He tells you how it is. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear because that’s not going to benefit you. If you want to be better, you have to hear the truth. And he has always given it. Whether wanted or not.
But let’s be real, no relationship is perfect. My dad and I have the problem of having the same personality. And that causes us to butt heads a lot. Anyone who works at the Subways can tell you, we fight. A lot. We scream at each other and slam doors or hang up on the other one when they’re talking. But 20 minutes later, my dad is out of his office, laptop in hand, to show me some funny animal video or interesting article that he was reading. All is forgiven, swept under the rug.
Although, one of the best things about my dad is that he never settles for less than the best. He’s always gotten on my brother and I for our grades or about sports or basically anything that he thinks we’re not trying hard enough in. Growing up, it was frustrating. And it still is, don’t get me wrong. Most of the time anything he’d say was met with an “okay, yeah, sure, whatever Dad.” But I also know that I wouldn’t be at the point I am in my life without all of that constant pestering.
Not that I’m some 24 year old millionaire or anything like that, but wouldn’t that have been great. But I’ve done alright. I’ve traveled around the world a bit. Last spring, I graduated from the University of Michigan, my dad’s alma mater, and one of the best public universities in the country. And not only that, but I graduated with honors, too. I also applied, and obviously got accepted, to the Peace Corps and am currently living in Indonesia. (which is why you’re reading this blog, if you were confused about that 😝) So as my dad would say, I’m 2/2. I’ve got a winning record when it comes to things I dreamed about.
Now, I’m not giving him all the credit for that because I worked hard (and if you ask him, I probably still could have worked a little harder haha). But I also know I was able to achieve all of that because of the person he helped raise me to be. I wouldn’t be the strong, confident, independent person I am today if he hadn’t always been there, pushing me to believe in myself.
He’s not the kind of person to do sentimental things, and he doesn’t like to make a big deal about holidays, or even his birthday for that matter. And he’s the epitome of a person that just talks shit to your face, but praises you behind your back to anyone he can. And even if he wasn’t the one saying it, I heard it all the time; every time I saw her, my Grandma Demo would always make a point to say, “you know, your dad really loves you kids a lot. He thinks the absolute world of you.”
He’s one of the strongest people I know. He’s one of the smartest people I know (don’t tell him I said that because that will get to his head, and he already likes to rub it in that he’s smarter than me). He more generous than most people will probably ever know. And he’s more loving than he likes to show.
Now, I don’t have a lot of money, and actually I’m still in debt from college. And I’m definitely not living in Indonesia because I’m making bank and rolling in cash, so I can’t really do a whole lot from over here (Maybe you’ll have better luck with the other kid; Utah is a little bit closer than SE Asia). But what I can do is say this,
I love you. I miss you. And I hope you visit me at some point in these next two years.
Oh yeah, and Happy Father’s Day.