My parents divorced when I was two and my amazing dad was the one to raise me. By himself.
My dad was a musician. I still have his acoustic guitar. Much of my childhood memories are of him playing guitar and singing. Sometimes I would chime in. Whether it was him, the radio, a record player, or MTV (in the good old days), music was a staple of our life.
Being a single dad with no money, sitters weren’t always easy to come by. So whenever he had plans with friends, family, or whoever, I was usually in tow.
Music. Laughter. Late nights. Impromptu sleepovers. Uninhibited imagination. Delivery pizzas. This is what many of our weekends consisted of. There were often other children to occupy me. It was manic excitement. I loved it.
I remember falling asleep on the couch, the floor, or the bed of someone I may or may not have known (but usually an aunt or uncle) at god knows what hour to the sound of guitars and boisterous creativity.
Sound too chaotic? I thrive in chaos. And I admit, that’s how my children are being raised. Maybe it’s my weekend upbringing. Or maybe my dad and I are just that similar (nature vs. nurture, anyone?). Either way it’s a valuable trait, in my opinion. I roll with the punches of life, and life has given me more than my share of beatings. I look back on my kid and pre-teen days and all the memories that helped shape me. It wasn’t just unstructured partying. He worked and I did well in school. There were trips to the zoo and bedtime stories. He made me eat my veggies and brush my teeth. He taught me right from wrong and I was punished when I was bad. We watched movies and played board games. He took me to the pumpkin patch and somehow made sure I had a magical Christmas each year. He nurtured my talents and interests and told me I could do anything I wanted, as good or better than any boy. Later on having long talks about life and philosophy. I’m a single mom for the second time in my adulthood and I think I’m doing alright. My dad inspires me daily, even more so now that his time on earth is done. I see that it may not have been the “ideal” picket fence childhood that comes to mind for most, but it worked for us. And it works for my little family now.
Any time I hear The Beatles, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, John Mellencamp, CCR, Skid Row, Poison, Guns N Roses, 4 non Blondes… the list goes on… I think of my dad. My life as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s. Freedom. Fun. It was the soundtrack of my childhood.
I hope my kids have the same fond memories of me and my late husband.
The other day I came across an old CD I burned with that Mr. Big song on it. I remember my dad and his buddy jamming to that song and I have been obsessed with it since. It conjures happiness and nostalgia, so I leave you with a piece of my bliss.