Spoiler: this post is a little personal, serious, and long. So if you just want some fun ol’ beanie weenies, you may want to start scrolling. And I promise that I don’t intend to make a habit out of this sort of thing, but I just feel compelled to put a few things out there because one thing I’ve struggled to be lately is open. This isn’t meant to be sad, or emotional, or bitter, or uncomfortable… I just want to be real.
I have been anticipating Father’s Day for the last sixteen days. It may have been in that small, trying-to-stay-out-your-way font on the calendar, but as soon as I turned to June, the first thing I saw was what seemed like a giant “Father’s Day.” On June 15. The seventh anniversary of my dad’s death.
Honestly, it’s funny, in a way. I know he is probably chuckling about it. He wasn’t a present father, yet he always told me that I would have regrets about our relationship, that years later I would be remorseful and sad about being upset with him for choosing not to play an active role in my life (which he told me he had consciously decided to do). So when he died the day before Father’s Day, it almost felt like a joke, like he was throwing in one last jab. For the rest of my life, I would be surrounded by wonderful stories of great fathers on Father’s Day, while being reminded of the death of mine at the same time. But how could I feel resentment toward him on Father’s Day? How could I cry about how “unfair” it all felt — I mean, he’s dead, he isn’t making those choices anymore. So how could I be upset with my dad on a day that’s for celebrating dads?
It’s made for a weird roller coaster of conflicting emotions every June, because sometimes I do want to be angry, or disappointed, or cry, or feel sorry for myself… but it’s really more important for me to move on from that. So dying around Father’s Day was actually one of the best things my dad ever did for me. I’m essentially forced to think of good memories, or at least I force myself to be positive, and that’s really for the best.
I’ve learned a lot from the relationship I’ve had with my dad, and I’m continually learning how that relationship affects who I am, my relationships with other people, and some of the struggles I experience daily. For what it’s worth, I thought I might share a few of those lessons.
Just because it’s broken, doesn’t mean it has to be fixed.
For as long as I can remember, a part of me has felt broken. When you’re four and you’re waiting by the door for someone who never shows, little bits of you start to crack for reasons you don’t understand. I remember crying. I remember being distracted by substitute sleepovers with cousins. I vividly remember being so consumed by rage that I could not physically manage it within my tiny body — someone finally grabbed a pillow and held it up, and I kicked, punched, and screamed out my frustration until I was drained and could finally function again. Those cracks will never be filled, and that’s not to say I haven’t found ways to try and fill those voids. It’s taken me a long time to realize that’s really one of those perfect imperfections. My little breaks are reminders of where I’ve been, what it means to build strong relationships that cannot be shattered, what it means to be protective of little beings who don’t understand adult choices. It’s like your teddy bear who lost an ear, or your favorite pair of sunglasses with a screw that keeps coming loose. Something’s been disturbed, but not the function or the sentiment. It’s just a little quirky.
Your worth is not tied to the actions and perceptions of others.
This is something I still struggle to accept every day. As a child who spent a lot of time feeling rejected and unwanted by my dad, I became extremely hypersensitive to the mannerisms and emotions of others. It’s been my way of avoiding people or situations that make me feel unwelcome or rejected, and also made it difficult to be myself. But it’s also made me highly empathetic, which I view as a strength. Every day, I have to remind myself that I have value. Every day, I tell myself that I’m not the reason you’re having a bad day or that my dad walked away. Every day, I have to actively thwart myself from being argumentative or disengaging just because connecting with you means you can hurt me. But one day, I know that will be inherent within me. What I’ve learned is that I affect my value, not what others do to me or think of me. I’ve learned that we all have something to offer, and it’s okay that the something won’t be for everyone. It might be a little more work for some of us to see it, but we are worth something… and it’s something good.
You can do something about it.
People make choices that affect us directly and indirectly, sometimes in terrible ways. Ultimately, what really matters is what you do about it. You can glean whatever you can and move on, or you can allow that person/situation to take control of your life. For me, it meant letting go of my ideal relationship with my father and pointing that energy in a more positive direction. Rather than feeling sorry that my dad would never send me flowers or pick me up from basketball practice like other dads, I started to feel inspired by the love of fathers and daughters. Rather than feeling destined to have unhealthy relationships with guys, I became hopeful and developed self-worth. And most importantly, I realized I didn’t have to continue down the path someone else’s choices made for me. You may be in an environment, but you don’t have to be of that environment.
Family is what you make it.
Blood does not equal family. I was one of three children in the home of a single mother, and I am the product of a village of people. I have been chauffeured, housed, and fed by friends and the parents of friends who treated me like family. I have cousins who feel like sisters. My aunts and uncles helped fund my college education. My brothers have shown me what it means to be good, loving men. I’ve had teachers who pushed me and challenged me to be bigger and better than what I was up against. And I have a grandfather who fought to have an active relationship with me when his son made it difficult, and he is one of the greatest men I have ever known. Those people are family, regardless of their blood relation. Family is supportive, loving, and protecting, and you can make of that whoever and whatever you please.
So I think Father’s Day is more than just celebrating dads. It’s also about celebrating those people who help out when dads can’t or don’t, as well as what you have learned from your dad and those people.
Now, finally, the “beanie weenies.” My dad intermittently showed his face, and I really do have some good memories of him. In light of it being Father’s Day, I tried to think of one thing that makes me think of only my father– that one thing is Beanie Weenies. We ate them when we shared things he loved, like fishing and hunting. So last night, I tackled a homemade version of something I haven’t eaten since I was about eight years old. Now you can make them, fill them with love, and share them with your daddies and families!
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cans white beans (I used Great White Northern)
- 4 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon)
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 4-6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 hotdog or sausage links*
- In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil until slightly translucent.
- Add the beans and tomato sauce and stir to combine.
- Add everything but the links and give it a big stir.
- Taste test and adjust seasonings, if needed.
- Stir in the sliced links and serve it up.
- I went with a vegetarian version and used Tofurky kielbasa sausage.
- Remember: Measurements and ingredients are not strict -- make it what you love!