Things I Want My Single Dad To Know
Nobody asked, but in case you were wondering, my father literally used to refer to himself as "the lady-daddy."
In 2017, that phrase is probably extremely offensive to at least some people, but I promise you, he had only the best intentions in mind (that intention being, making my younger self laugh at his equally offensive, high-pitched, "lady-daddy" voice).
This was essentially his weird, but kind of hilarious way of describing the trials and tribulations of being a single dad.
After my parents got divorced, when I was about five years old, my dad was given primary custody of me and my older brother. This meant we mainly lived at his house, but once a week, and every other weekend, we'd stay at our mom's house.
Even though this Sunday is technically Mother's Day, here are five things I want my single dad/"lady-daddy" to know.
1. I'm thankful for growing up in a mess.
When I say "mess," I mean in both a literal and figurative sense.
From a literal standpoint, all of the stereotypes you've ever heard about a single dad's ability (or, more accurately, lack thereof) to keep a clean house were beyond true in my home life.
The sink was constantly filled with dirty dishes. Laundry was virtually nonexistent. And, with two cats and two dogs in the house, our home always vaguely smelled... well, like shit. It smelled like shit.
Figuratively speaking, I technically grew up in a broken home, which is, inherently, a mess. It was a mess to explain my living situation to friends who didn't understand; it was a mess to see so much of my dad, yet so little of my mom.
Through all the chaos, though, I'm thankful for the conditions I grew up in. When people routinely make fun of you because your clothes smell like cat piss, you have no choice but to develop pretty thick skin.
And, overall, you learn to make the best of any situation, no matter how shitty or how smelly.
2. It's your fault I love pasta so much.
Not only has my dad never known how to properly clean a house, he's also never really learned how to cook much beyond spaghetti.
And, mind you, that's spaghetti with jarred tomato sauce. I know -- so fucking sacrilegious.
Thankfully, I did manage to expand my skills a bit, and I can now whip up homemade red sauce that would make your Italian grandmother tear up with pride.
But, I'm going to have to go ahead and blame good ol' Papa Stricks for pervading my childhood with so much pasta that I now have a mildly unhealthy obsession with the food as a 23-year-old adult woman.
(I'm not really that mad about it, though).
3. You taught me how to be aware of the world.
My dad's always been very into politics. I can't even tell you how many times I've been kicked out of the family room while watching Netflix because he NEEDS to watch Chris Hayes on MSNBC.
Without my dad's influence, I'm not sure I ever would have pursued a career as a writer. He helped me cultivate so many of my curiosities, and he's always jumped at the opportunity to teach me something I didn't know.
Plus, now that I'm older, we can sit down on the couch and actually enjoy the political pundits together.
4. You showed me the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
If I'm being honest, I only signed up for my very first gym membership because my dad bothered me enough to do so.
He always made it a point to tell me just how great he felt after playing pickup basketball with his friends, or after working out really hard at the gym.
While some parents might approach this conversation from a potentially hurtful perspective, my dad was pretty straightforward in convincing me why exercise is so important. He genuinely communicated to me he wanted me to live a long, happy and healthy life, and exercise was just one factor in accomplishing that.
Don't get me wrong, though. My dad works out way harder than most men in their 60s, but the guy can also never say no to (literally) any Hostess product.
5. Thank you for never shutting me out just because I'm your only daughter.
I have two older brothers. So, I'm both the youngest in the family, and I'm the only girl.
Now, obviously, it would be some pretty shitty parenting to treat me differently for any of those reasons, but I think we all know it still happens sometimes.
Fathers tend to get along better with their sons, and moms often become best friends with their daughters.
I love both of my parents, but my dad and I have such a unique relationship.
We have more inside jokes than I have with even my closest friends. We've had countless heart-to-heart talks about almost everything, from relationships, to school, to my career. There's nothing we don't talk about together.
Thank you for everything, Dad, and happy lady-daddy's day.