May 23, 2008

Focus on the Family

I was looking way forward to this Memorial Day weekend, because my mom, sister, and sister's boyfriend were driving up today from Utah to visit for the weekend. Unfortunately, I just found out that Kate and her boyfriend woke up this morning feeling sick, so they aren't coming up anymore. Rather than drive alone today, my mom called my Dad, who had been planning to come up anyway (not that he told me or Tony about his plans), and now they are driving up tomorrow, which is fine, but I'm bummed that now we will have one less day to visit with Madre.

My son has a state soccer tournament in Great Falls all weekend, but my daughter has a softball game tonight, so he is going after school today to Great Falls with his dad, while we planned to do a day trip to Great Falls on Sunday to see him play and to give Grandma a chance to see him. Apparently, my dad chooses to NOT travel with us on Sunday. He'd rather attend church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes major pride (you know, the righteous kind of pride, not the sinful pride) in teaching that FAMILY is the Most Important Thing. This may be true in many LDS families, but it certainly isn't true for my dad. I am fairly certain that he feels he is Choosing The Right by being a righteous example to his poor, misguided, wayward, apostate daughter and her poor, innocent children whom she's leading astray. But all I see is a pathetic excuse of a man who is unable to see how his behavior gives the clear message to his daughters and grandkids that they rate below three hours of boring church. He spends countless hours a week on church things and temple service and genealogy work. He spends a few hours a year visiting us.

I have a guest bedroom all prepared for him. The thing is, I have no idea if he'll choose to stay with me in comfort, or if he'll opt to stay at his (abandoned since 1996) house across town ~ the house that has no power, heat, or running water. That's what he did last time he came to town. He filled a five gallon jug with water from my house and camped out at his house in a sleeping bag, and the temperature was over 100 degrees. So strange. He actually went to TWO wards that Sunday, for a total of 6 hours, rather than come and spend time with his grandkids.

We were in Utah last June over Father's Day weekend, traveling through from our trip to Las Vegas for a soccer regional tournament. I called him, telling him we'd be at his mom's house in Kaysville for about three hours, and asked if he could drive down and visit from Brigham City since we had plans that evening and couldn't make it up there and back with any time to see him. He said no, he had gotten up early to clean the church building, and besides, he had just seen his mother yesterday, and it IS 100 miles round-trip, you know. Oh, yeah, well, um...Happy Father's Day, Dad. Really.

Some parents teach by example. My dad teaches me what NOT to do by his.

12 comments:

Cele said...

Have an enjoyable visit with tu Madre.

Hopefully someday your dad will come to his senses. But I doubt it. The trick now is to accept it and move on. You can't compete with the church, sad as that may be, but it is your dad that is losing out on you and your wonderful kids. At this point in their lives you are making the difference, the memories, and the values they will carry through out their lives. Your dad is choosing to be a sad memory to them. You can't change that.

Have a great weekend, and it is wonderful to see you blogging again.

KingM said...

I find this bizarre. When you state things to him as clearly as you have here, what is his justification?

LG said...

I'm with cele ... nice to see a post from you. I always feel happy to see something new from SML in my RSS feed!

My parents are the same way. Church is #1 in their life, and family is second. I remember my dad not being around that much when I was younger - not because he was a bad father, but because he was a two-time bishop. That meant no Sundays with the family, and several days during the week spent at the church. My mom was a ward AND stake RS president, so she was gone a lot, too. NOW I know why Mormons have a lot of kids ... they need the babysitters.

The good news is that you see what your father does and how damaging it has been, and you're choosing differently. That makes all the difference in the world.

Phoenix Touch said...

Ugh...

So much of this is too miserably familiar! It is so bizarre how the religion teaches "Families First" and, yet, somehow that gets forgotten on Sundays. My dad used to be the exact same way. In his older age, surprisingly, he is becoming a tad more flexible. Perhaps that is because I am no longer a member and my sister, brother and their spouses and children are completely inactive. Maybe he has figured out that an example of a LOVING father is much more swaying than an absentee father who is certain to get all his church duties handled. Don't know...

May your visit with your Mom be beautiful, though. And may your dad pull his head out of his ass... soon!!!

lostinutah said...

Oh, SML, I am sorry to hear that. My husband's dad has his head up his ass too - my MIL died almost 2 years ago and in that time my husband's seen his dad maybe 3 times - he's too busy with his "new" girlfriend (oops, I mean now, fiance) to drive 5 hours to see us and his grandson and if we go there we feel like he'd rather be doing something, anything else. We bought him a Southwest gift card to come see us - after no use or mention of coming for a year by him I gave up and used it myself.

In fact, if this bit of info makes you feel any better (or less alone), he had the nerve to call us from the SLC airport a few weeks ago to let us know he was there, eating dinner - on his way back from Mexico. Obviously we didn't see him.

Again, a good example of how NOT to be a parent - grown children need their parents, too, and they don't need to act like asshats.

Have fun with your Madre.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Okay, when I read the title, I thought for sure you were writing about that vile homophobe, James Dobson, and his equally vile, homophobic organization Focus on the Family. Thank God you weren't! :-)

As for your dad, his priorities are so misplaced, it's beyond sad. All I can say is, his lose.

My 95-year old paternal grandmother is very similar in her behavior. She can't be bothered to come to D.C. to visit her only living son and when my dad goes to CA to visit her, she can't wait for him to leave. And yet, she'll drive with her late son's wife down to Las Vegas to visit her grand- and great-grandchildren. It's as if my father and his three children don't even exist.

My point is, your father is wasting valuable years that he could spend getting to know three really incredible kids and building a deeper relationship with a wonderful, respectful daughter. What an idiot!

And I'll stop there. Nice to see you in Bloggerville again. Hope you're settling in and enjoying life! xoxo

mark said...

You have an incredible way of expressing yourself SML. I think the bulk of the blame should be placed on the shoulders of one Joseph "Effing" Smith. He started the phoney baloney LDS religion with a pack of lies and a ton of ill will. This is what Joseph had in mind when he created this nutty lifestyle. He wanted to control every aspect of every life. He was an evil man and Satan is his brother. Thankfully you and millions like you have cast off the deadly anchor that Joseph attached to every LDS recruit. Someday all LDS members will be ex-members. Rome crumbled, the Nazis were defeated, the LDS will share the same fate. Geez I miss Simeon.

Coral said...

My mum teaches me what NOT to do by hers.

Paraphrased from your blog....

SillyNut said...

SML,

My dad is coming for the first time in 2 years in a couple of weeks. My youngest isn't much older than 2 years old. (Like barely.) He's showing up on Saturday morning sometime, staying in a hotel, and leaving after church on Sunday.

Dads suck.

Though I did tell him he can't take my kids to church with him.

Melliferous Pants said...

Yeah, that just screams families forever. Ugh.

shinshige said...

SML - Hmmmm, wow. I'll start by saying - my father died when I was 16. He was not around to see my first girlfriend, second girlfriend, third girlfriend, etc., college graduation (or college start for that matter), marriage, my son, my blog. . . You get the idea.

When people complain about their parents' behaviour around me, I used to say something like, "Oh yeah, well at least you have a father!!"

After reading this, I had an epiphany - nearly 17 years later. That epiphany is thus: You don't have a father, either. I never got that before. Yeah, there is this guy from Brigham you call dad, and your kids may call grandpa. But, he's not a father. He's not around to see your kids grow, just as my father is not around to see mine. So, in a lot of ways, you can't be happy you, at least, have a father, because maybe you don't.

the terrys said...

Hi! I just wanted to say that I love your blog and I hope to see more posts coming!