A Father’s Day Story: Editing Your Life

Today I’m happy to welcome guest blogger Carol Muse Evans, publisher/editor of Birmingham Parent magazine. I love what she wrote about her relationship with her dad, and I think it’s a great read as we each start thinking about Father’s Day — and our relationship with our own father. Thanks, Carol.

I’m halfway through an interesting book someone in our office building recently recommended.  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller is described as a writer “editing his life.”  It’s a cool idea – if only we could learn to do it as we go. If only we would do it.

Ironically, as I’m thinking about Father’s Day, and I’m deep in my book, my thoughts keep going back to my dad’s life. My relationship with my late dad was certainly less than ideal. He was a tough man to love, as a child and an adult. While many times I thought he didn’t love me as I was growing up, now that he’s gone, and I  think back on that part of my life, I realize who he really didn’t love was himself. He loved me as best he knew how, but he really didn’t love himself, which made everything else in his life so much harder.

In the book I’m reading, Miller talks about how, as you live your life, you are writing your own “story.” When I read, “People who say life is meaningless usually mean their life is meaningless,” I thought of Daddy.  I think that might be how he felt. I think he thought he wasn’t writing his story, but that it was writing itself, and he had no control. Ultimately, I don’t think Daddy ever could be happy. I don’t think he chose to be happy or to search out happiness in the life he had. He never edited his life into a story he wanted to read.

And it makes me sad for him now. Thought he never earned millions or wrote anything profound, nor played in the NFL or had fame, he had a family that still loved him, warts and all, and a child that always sought his approval, though it could never be attained. He could have written a very different story. It was all in his hands, despite what life dealt him. He was still the writer.

This Father’s Day, dads, reflect on the story you are “writing,” and if it’s the story you want to live. It’s not too late to do some editing, if you need to, and being a great dad will be one of the best story lines you can choose. Showing your child you love him and showing him how to live a great life will be some of the greatest gifts you can ever give on Father’s Day, and every day.  You don’t have to be a celebrity — just his dad.

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2 Responses to “A Father’s Day Story: Editing Your Life”

  1. Jennifer Smith says:

    And the message I want to leave as a response to this blog is that it doesn’t have to end there … in a dangerous legacy of meaningless life done unwell and unhappily. Even if your parent communicated all the wrong things in all the wrong ways, chose to live without joy and to withhold approval, you can break the unhealthy cycle and begin meaningful parenting in your generation. You can begin editing life in your little family differently. I know this, because I was priveleged to grow up having Carol Muse Evans as my dearest friend … and having her dad, whom I affectionately nicknamed “Ticker” because of his pacemaker, as one of the male figures in my life. I witnessed some of the fallout from Ticker’s rampages; and on the flipside, I have seen Carol’s little family triumph above that to create a healthy and loving, if not sometimes, goofball parenting environment. In short, I love visiting her family, and am proud of the story she and David, her steadfast, brilliant and kooky husband, are writing. So to all of you “newer” parents who fear parenting because your example of fathering was flawed at best, take courage! I believe great parenting is just a bit of fun, a myriad of prayers, a bucket of tears, some shared vision with your spouse and a heap of apologies away. It won’t be perfect, but done humbly, it will be a story worth sharing like Carol and David’s … I’m thankful for their example of cycle breaking! If they can do it, so can the rest of us! Happy Father’s Day!

  2. Jennifer, this is the most wonderful comment! I know Carol will appreciate it very much. Thanks for writing.