When Did I Become My Father?

It’s 8pm on a Saturday night.  I’ve been awake a little over 8 hours.  A bit over half of my day has been awful.  I think it’s all my doing as well.  Actually I know it’s my fault.

I slept in past lunch.  I woke up with my lower back in agony.  I barely wanted to move.  Eventually I pushed myself out of bed.  Begrudgingly I made a late breakfast for my wife and I.  More like I made a breakfast sandwich for a late lunch.  While we ate, my wife reminded me that I wanted to take her to the VIP Cinema to watch “Logan” this afternoon.  So I checked the showtime and we decided to make the 2:30pm showing.  A matinee was a great idea.

I accomplished the 3 S’s and we were at the theater with twenty minutes to spare.  We sat down and chatted, joked- just enjoyed each other’s company.  My wife said, “I like this version of you.”  She had me thinking that I have been a poop lately.  I haven’t hung out with my kids in over a week.  Driving to and from school doesn’t really count.  There hasn’t been much in the way of quality time with the family this week.  Work has been heavy on my mind.

We enjoyed our film.  Then wandered some shops for a bit.  I was looking for a new jacket and she was looking at clothes for the kids.  No luck.  So we went home.  No plan for dinner.  As we drove, I quickly did a mental recall of food in our home and mentioned what we had in the freezer and what to have for a side dish.  We got home with dinner planned out.

Then I became grumpy.  No reason.  Just a big grump.  I served dinner and everything was making me edgy.  Just everything.  The way the kids answered questions, how they were serving their food, even the way they were eating.  Suddenly, my father came out.

The grumpy piece of shit.  The asshole who ruined nearly every meal in my childhood.  The man who made me feel less of a human being with every word he spoke.  That man showed up at my dinner table.  His voice coming through my mouth.  The more I tried to fight it, the more he came out.  My wife sat silently stunned.  My children were holding back tears.  

The one thing I never wanted.  The person have I tried so hard to not become.  Here he was in all of his Eastern European hatred.  Shining like a beacon.  A ray of destruction killing our family meal.  And I was lost.  Lost like the little boy that I could see across the table in my son’s eyes.  He and I shared a kinship of fear and sadness as I could feel my father pulsating through my veins.

Suddenly I hated myself.  I hated everything I said.  I hated who emerged at that moment.  I can’t take any of it back.  I can’t give an excuse for why I behaved that way.  Here I am now as I type this.  Crying at the way I acted.  The way I spoke.  No one needs to accept me for that.  I can’t ask for forgiveness.  I can’t reason away my rudeness.  

Sticks and stones can break your bones but words cause permanent damage.

Not my best performance to date with my family.  I have many years left to go raising them and loving them.  I don’t want a night like this to reflect in their memories of who I was.  I don’t want to become my father.  I want to be my children’s father.  A father who cares and shows he cares.  Not a belligerent jerk.  

When my father died, I had hoped that his hate had died also.  It seems there was a bit of it in me.  I hope it’s gone.
No one wants him around.  

Especially me.  Not ever again.  Not in this household.  Not towards my children.

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