“How did they treat their child?”

Even though the words were written two years ago on someone else’s social media account, I knew who they were aimed at. And they stung like barbed wire.

This is what they said.

Some people like to write blogs. They even make it the most important thing in their lives. You read what they say and their head swells. King of the Hill, Man of the Mountain, oh how cool they are now. They reel you in and you believe everything they say. Well don’t because even though they tell you they had it hard as a kid, how did they treat their child?”

Those last six words were aimed at me. No, this isn’t paranoia. Trust me on this. Those were aimed at me like a scalpel through skin.

The person was making a statement about how I raised my kid. As if I was some sort of unfit father.

The fact is, there are so many fathers out there that actually give a shit about their kids. They really do. And by “giving a shit,” I don’t mean writing a check every month. I’m talking about stepping up when someone else fails.

Was I a perfect father? No. I’ll admit that right now and I’ll admit that any day. I made mistakes. But even in those mistakes, I learned from the mistakes and vowed to not make the mistakes again. Because the one thing I did learn was NOT to do the same things the father figures in my life did to me.

It was not easy. Nothing is. From 1988 to 1994, I was a single father, having survived a divorce and winning custody of our kid. Not because of some “get custody of the kid and you won’t have to pay child support” mantra. It was more a case of “get custody so that the kid doesn’t end up trapped in that same treadmill to oblivion that you went through.”

No, it wasn’t easy. Finances were tight. There were many days when I had to choose between feeding everybody, or feeding everybody minus me. And if that choice came up, then the answer was clear. Everyone else ate first.

Was I the best parent? No. I’ll admit that again. But I know that whatever I did as a father, I stopped the cycle of despair the same way a cloth mask stopped the spread of COVID. Even today, my son Kris and I talk on a regular basis, which is important. You always want to keep the communication open, no matter what.

What did I learn as a parent? Not to do the same things that my parents did to me. Give better. Work harder. Don’t let the bullshit overwhelm you. And if things get tough, there’s always a network of people you can count on to help lift the weight.

And as for blogging about such things. I don’t blog because I want to feel “cool.” I don’t blog because I want a swelled head. If I have to explain why I blog, the best reason is because it helps me process out what I’ve gone through in life. Surviving the highs and lows without falling into self-destructive traps. We all have our ways of coping with crises, both personal and professional. Not every solution works for everyone. Certainly, your mileage may vary.

I don’t need a fancy ribeye steak and a “World’s Greatest Dad” T-shirt today. The only thing I need is to know that my son is happy and healthy and living his best possible life. I need no more than that.

That in itself is the best Father’s Day gift I can ask for.

And anybody that has a problem with that … they can go kick rocks.