How Do I Love Thee?

“I may not love you perfectly but you are perfectly loved.”

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When I was a teenager, I remember being annoyed with my dad.  I thought he should acknowledge my accomplishments more than he did.  He wasn’t one for giving compliments and I found myself pouting over that issue more than once.  I wanted him to give me verbal praise for things.  I wanted him to tell me he was happy with my performance on the track, or on the balance beam or that he loved the character development I achieved in the school play, but that just wasn’t his way and it made me mad.

It made me mad until I had a realization one day.  I figured out that it wasn’t my dad who had the problem, it was me!  My father showed me each and every day that he loved me and he let me know that in ways small and large. He often made little folded airplanes for me out of matchbook covers because they amused me.  When he had a bag of pecans, he’d patiently crack open and clean one nut for me each time he cracked one for himself and he ate my Lima beans without telling my mom because he knew I hated them. He worked tirelessly and without complaint so that my sister and I had the material things we needed (and some we didn’t but just wanted). A huge chunk of his paycheck went to the Hamlin School for Girls…an academically challenging, private school in San Francisco.  He let us buy books and magazines whenever we wanted.  He never said “No” to reading material, be it comic books or my very own encyclopedia set (which I enjoyed immensely especially on rainy weekends).  I had tap dancing lessons, ballet lessons, horseback riding lessons, tennis lessons and swimming lessons. My dad took the family everywhere he traveled because he wanted us to experience other places, people and cultures.  In other words, he was a great dad but I chose to focus on the one thing he didn’t do…give verbal compliments.

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My dad and I. I think I was about 4 in this photo.

Once I gained the insight to look at the whole picture and to take what he gave me with gratitude, I was a much happier girl.  It changed our relationship for the better since I was no longer childishly demanding he do something entirely foreign to his nature.  I opened my own heart and suddenly, I could see what I should have all along…that I was always loved and always appreciated whether he gave words to it or not.

It’s a lesson I’ve carried through all the rest of my life.  People love you in the way that’s most natural to them.  It’s a waste of time to fret over the things they don’t do (like bring you flowers) if can see that they show you appreciation in other ways (like happily fixing your car when it’s broken).  Sometimes you can make your own happiness by simply adjusting your own perspective. 

*One year, my dad started going to McDonald’s constantly.  He hated the food there but ordered his Happy Meal and dutifully ate the thing several times a week.  One day my older son who was about 3 at the time said “Grandpa sure does love McDonalds.”  I smiled and said “No, he sure does love YOU.”  He was going to McDonald’s and ordering Happy Meals in order to collect the toys included in meal.  He was on a quest to get each and every Teeny Beanie Baby in the collection since he found out his precious grandson liked them.  Now that’s love!

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My dad, my older son (who is now 19) and Matt the dog.

15 responses

  1. Precious Lynn

    1. My dad was a wonderful man…very solid, reliable and kind. I was lucky, that’s for sure. I just needed to learn to be more appreciative as a self-centered teenager!

      Sending you wishes for a great day, a happy tomorrow and a fantastic weekend!

  2. Thanks for sharing Lynn.💓💓

    1. That story came to mind because I want to give my older son a gift I know he won’t like. It’s a medal of St. Benedict. It’s very meaningful to me but he won’t want it. He tells me all the time that religion stupid and that he’s not a believer. Nevertheless, I want him to have it. My hope is that one day, he’ll recognize it as a gift from my heart, just as I realized that my dad loved me even though he didn’t show me exactly the way I wanted him to. Who knows….kids!

      Wishing you a very happy day!

  3. It looks like your dad didn’t just tell you how much he loved you, he showed you! The latter is the tricky part.

    1. You’re right about that. Showing is the hard part and the true test. I just wanted him to do it my way (verbally). Once I stopped pressing for that, I was a much happier young person.

      Hope your workouts are going well. I’m doing fine with the workouts and I’m enjoying them….BUT, I’m a ‘lil chunky right about now. I know why. It’s all the carbs I’ve been having fun eating over the past months but now I need to turn my attention to leaning out a little. I’ll go slow, be steady with my eating and by September, I should be tighter. Enjoy your day!

      1. Showing true love is definitely the challenge. So true.
        My workouts are going pretty good. My struggle is always rice, pasta, all the carbs! I’m sure you’re looking as fit as always.

  4. My Dad was a lot like your Dad from the sound of it. I fully understand what you are saying, but I still wish that I could remember an occasion when my Dad praised one of my achievements. I know he did all those things for me, but I would still like a memory or two of feeling that I was measuring up to his standards.

    1. I think a lot of dads, especially of that generation were like that. He didn’t compliment and he wasn’t one to show a lot of emotion either. I do know what you mean. It’s frustrating to want just an occasional “atta boy” but you just can’t get one no matter how well you do.

      Happy Thursday to you. I hope your week is ending on a nice note!

  5. What a fantastic story of your father, your relationship and of growing up. Being mature enough to look inside oneself and seeing the good in others. OUTSTANDING, Lynn!!

    1. I was a very lucky little girl. My dad was a wonderful man and a great role model. I just had a problem properly appreciating him at one point in my life (teenagers aren’t known for their wisdom). I think of him often.

      Speaking of fathers…I love all your reflections and memories of yours. Happy Thursday!

      1. Thank you, Lynn. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Dad [with or with this blog!!] All the way around – they made one fantastic, unbeatable generation!!

  6. Your dad sounds like an amazing man!

    1. He was really wonderful. I was a very lucky girl to have a dad like him.

      Hope you’re doing well and that you’re enjoying this beautiful day!

      1. I am doing well, thank you for asking! I will enjoy as much of the day as I can, since I am trapped inside working.. lol

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