My dad wakes every single morning anywhere between 2-5am to get his day started. By the time I wake up at 9am to scroll on Instagram for 30 minutes, my dad has been to Chicago and back twice and has half of the yard mowed. Growing up he would work midnights, drive a school bus, and farm the land that has been in our family for a hundred years. Dad worked hard so we could all play hard. We went boating and camping for weeks at a time during the summers. He made an effort to make sure we spent quality time together as a family.
Dad’s intentional behavior created the bonds between my sisters and I. The way he treated and continues to treat my mother shows me that there are relationships built on trust, friendship, and dedication to another person’s happiness before your own. He created the entire idea that I have of love. He did this in his willingness to get up before dawn in the dead of winter to be sure that the snowmobile was running for my sisters and I. His ability to discipline with a stern tone and model proper respect built what I seek in a partner.
He encouraged education above everything else. We could play sports, but only if it didn’t get in the way of school. He would say we needed to be able to work with our brains and not our backs. I am his third daughter to be completing a Master’s degree. One of them is 32, a licensed clinical social worker, married, and has three children. The other is 29 and married with a baby on the way. She is also the Practice Manager of the Neuroscience Institute at the hospital. Our lives and the intentional love in our relationships alongside the commitment to our careers is because of my parents’ decisions and behavior while we were growing up. I have my own painful demons that I deal with, but my father built a foundation within me of never accepting the act of giving up or settling as an option.
Mental health is important. It isn’t dumb to discuss openly why we act the way we do. It isn’t taboo to bring up why we may feel certain things a little harsher than others. Not if it will help someone understand you better. Its important to recognize and respect another person’s story, and be able listen to why they are behaving the way they are, rather than turning to immediate judgement. Sometimes is a lot easier to be offended than it is to be vulnerable.
Being able to take a step back and look at a person’s journey and talk to them about it, rather than simply reacting to the current presenting behavior is a skill I think a lot of people in today’s society could potentially stand to learn. That it is not about judging each other or being best friends with everyone, it is just about recognition and respect of another person’s journey.