Shitty-Great. It’s the best way to describe my relationship with my biological father. I say this humbly and honestly. My father and I had this really special, dysfunctional, loving relationship. Sure, I wish he had been a better provider and protector, I wish he didn’t have a drug addiction, I wish he wasn’t a gigolo, womanizer, liar-but then he wouldn’t be [my] father. And through all of these characteristics, I was taught some very valuable cautionary tales of the world. I wouldn’t have the keen instincts to see when a man is taking advantage of me. I wouldn’t know about flavored condoms- not that I ever used them, but it’s still information in my tool shed. Yes, the birds and the bees conversation with my father included flavored condoms. Looking back, now that I am a seasoned adult, I can see the impact of my father’s childhood and adolescent life. I know his drug addiction stemmed from his childhood trauma and the loss of his mother. My father never found a place to hide or recover from his pain. He tried, but since he couldn’t he was blind to the pains he was causing me. It’s still pretty shitty, and I still I love him.
My father has always shared words of affection. He always says I love you. He always kissed me. There are many who will never know the kiss of a father, the affection of a father-but I do, and he was still shitty. Shitty-great. My father took some pretty serious missteps. We didn’t talk for over 13 years (I stopped counting).Then one day he called. He apologized. I listened. There are people who will never get an apology from their father or parent(s). There are people who have never made up with their parent(s), but my father is so shitty-great, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to reconnect with him. Thirteen plus years is a long time to never see or hear from a parent, but its great that he understood no matter how long a time and distance between us, he still owed me an apology. He still had to try.
Many of us have shitty-great parent(s). We understand they are well-intentioned with unimaginable human errors. That’s what makes them so great.
Parenting is never about the perfect raising of a child. We have put an unreasonable assignment on parents to be flawless.
If you’ve never had the language to describe the relationship between you and your parent, perhaps I can assist. Feel free to borrow, share, understand, identify and forgive some of the trauma’s that have been a part of your child-parent relationship.
Perhaps we share a commonality. Maybe [you] have a shitty-great parent. Rest assured this is not shameful, this is reconciliation. This is perhaps an opportunity to restore what is worth salvaging. While our exchanges between our parents have left more scars than playing sports and riding bikes, we all have valuable lessons to absorb in our healing and moving forward. This begins with understanding, honoring and reconciling our shitty-great childhood through our shitty-great parents.