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You may not be parent of the year, but that doesn't make you a bad person.

The belief that a man’s work is more important than his family is what's wrong in many households. The most important work you will do is within the walls of your own home. I was raised with a dad that spend majority of his time working. If he had worked and then come home to spend quality time or to provide a quality life for myself and my siblings maybe I could justify the anger & hurt towards him. Instead we bounced home to home, lived with my grandma, was raised by someone else, wouldn't see dad for days on end, counted his beer cans as we made a game of smashing & recycling them & had little to none typical childhood memories. Between the ages 8 - 13. I was blessed enough with a stepdad that changed my life. I cannot even think of the life I would have if it weren't for him. He fought for me since day one. He was a huge catalyst in a long-term custody battle. When he met my mom he knew that it meant marrying her children too. And he did. On their wedding day he presented us with rings & vows. He didn't have any kids of his own, but he took on a fatherhood role overnight. He sold his Motorcycle and worked long hours to be sure to be able to pay for the best lawyer. He saw my mom for who she was & believed in her from day one. He did this for us and he did it for my mom, but most of all he did it from his heart. When someone asks what kind of man I want in my life or if I’m looking for a father for my kids ? No, they have a dad. Nobody will ever replace them. But I'll be damned if I marry a man that separates my children from myself. We are a package deal. When I choose to introduced a man into my kids life he will be one that loves, adores, respects, validates, honors & enjoys my kids. Not all the time. Because let’s be real.. I don’t even ENJOY my kids all of the time. I won't settle. My mom was a perfect example of this when she married Erik. Even though their marriage only lasted 10 years - He is the standard that I have set for any "step parent" in my kids lives. I'm not saying my dad is a bad man or didn't do his best or that I don't love him. My dad is an tenderhearted, hard working, loving man! He would give the shirt off of his back. He defends his loved ones & he pushes through even when things get hard. With that being said - we aren't all cut out to be parents of the year. I recall being 6 years old & in first grade. We were living in Gusher, Utah. It has a population of about 12. ;) My sister and I would get ourselves up at 5 am to be on the bus by 6 so that we could take the long route to school. Often times the bus driver would drop us off last. I don't know where my dad was all of the nights that he didn't come home; I was told he was working. Occasionally, he would stumble in from the bar & pass out on the couch watching Garfield. He always slept with a gun by his side. We had a neighbor that we could check in with when her abusive husband wasn't around, but for the most part it was her 16 year old daughter raising us. We lived on the corner of a busy street in a colorful house with a busted window on a dirt lot. The faucet always dripped & the laundry was piled 3 feet high in the bathroom corner. My mom would talk us through how to wash our underwear in the sink & dry them out the night before so we could wear them to school. She would send us packages of snacks, clothing & fun items to our school to assure they were given to us. My sisters room was piled waist high of random items, clothing, furniture & whatever else we couldn't see. We shared a room with a bunk bed & orange shag carpet. For a while there I kept a bird in a shoe box in my closet. I had tried to save it, but later learned that birds eat more than grass & they can't live in a shoe box in the dark... who knew. We would come home from school & walk to my cousins home up the road to eat "bread butter and sugar". Yes, That's exactly what it is. Bread with butter on it sprinkled with sugar. This was a meal for us. I'm not sure when or where we eat, because obviously we ate,because we didn't die, but nobody cooked for us & our house didn't have food. One night we called my grandma that lived hours away to ask how to make mac-and-cheese. She did a delightful job explaining how to make it without milk, because all that was in the fridge was a 12 pack of beer. I've learned many valuable lessons from my dad. Whether that be through watching his downfalls, experiencing the let downs or seeing his vulnerable side shine. That's my favorite part of him. I can still feel the safe feeling of his heavy arm around my should when he would say welcome me home after visitations with other family. Or the look he would get when he was trying not to cry under his sunglasses when sending us off to other family. He seriously has one of the biggest hearts I know. He has driven across the country or states across & picked me up more than once without notice. He welcomes me with open arms regardless of the situation. He has been gentle & he has been firm. He supports me in whatever I choose to do even when he disagrees. Despite the hardships, I love my dad with all of my heart. <3 Without the crazy parts of my story I wouldn't be where I am now. I'm grateful for all of it even though it doesn't look like a pretty painted picture, it's beautiful to me. Parenting may not be his strong suit, but he loves big! #barefootbrinlie

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