Wise Words for Moms on Father’s Day

“Wait Till Your Pa Comes Home”

by Edgar A Guest

“Wait till your Pa comes home!” Oh, dear.
What a dreadful threat for a boy to hear.
Yet never a boy of three of four
but has heard it a thousand times or more.
“Wait till your Pa comes home, my lad,
and see what you’ll get for being bad.”

“Wait till your Pa comes home, you scamp!
You’ve soiled the walls with your fingers damp,
you’ve tracked the floor with your muddy feet
and fought with the boy across the street;
you’ve torn your clothes and you look a sight!
But wait till your Pa comes home tonight.”

Now since I’m the Pa of that daily threat
which paints me as black as a thing of jet
I rise in protest right here to say
I won’t be used in so fierce a way;
no child of mine in the evening gloam
shall be afraid of my coming home.

I want him waiting for me at night
with eyes that glisten with real delight;
when it’s right that punished my boy should be
I don’t want the job postponed for me.
I want to come home to a round of joy
and not to frighten a little boy.

“Wait till your Pa comes home!” Oh, dear.
What a dreadful threat for a boy to hear.
Yet that is ever his Mother’s way
of saving herself from a bitter day;
and well she knows in the evening gloam
he won’t be hurt when his Pa comes home.

From Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co


One day in a store I overheard a frustrated mother say to her misbehaving boy, “Your father’s going to kill you when we get home.”

Really?

What a HORRIBLE thing to say to a child. As Mr. Guest points out in this poem, that father wouldn’t have appreciated the role of murderer one bit.

If she’d say, “Your dad’s going to punish you,” it might have been fitting. But kill him? Thank God she was lying! You may say it’s just an expression, but it is a lie.

Someday, about ten years down the line, I can hear her telling her son, “Don’t do drugs. Drugs will ruin your life. They will kill you.”

Will he believe her?

(P.S.: This isn’t fiction; got my Chrisses crossed today.)

 

Fast Forward Fifty Years

Ancient History 101 Meets Healing

As I get older and read the life stories of others, I realize that I did not grow up in an abnormally abusive home.  The way Mom & Dad F raised me was quite much in keeping with the homes they would have seen – and better than the homes they themselves grew up in.

Part of my problem was that I was an extremely gullible child.  My Dad liked to take advantage of this and tell me stuff I’d believe – then laugh at me for believing it.  (This isn’t an uncommon thing, either, sad to say.)  He remembered when I was tiny he told me that peanuts were squirrel droppings, so for a long time after I wouldn’t eat peanuts.  I have no memory of this.

So when he criticised me so severely I took it all in as honest truth.  In spite of it all, though, I did come to realize Dad really loved me.  He showed it in his own way, which was to buy me stuff I wanted for Christmas or my birthday.  He couldn’t afford to “lavish” gifts on me, but did what he could.  And when he was in a good humor I did get lots of hugs and loving words.

Mom knew the truth, maybe that’s why she never contradicted him with regard to his verbal abuse.  She never said, “Dad has his own troubles – you’re not really so bad.”  Maybe she thought I really WAS that bad and deserved to be scolded.  Maybe she thought – or wanted to believe – I would know Dad didn’t really mean it; what he said couldn’t be doing me that much harm.  I do remember her saying once that “Dad’s bark is worse than his bite.”

Or maybe she was in survival mode during those years, working as hard as she could to bring home the bacon and trying to handle all the verbal abuse she got, dismayed about the rift between Dad and Verne.  I don’t remember ever seeing Dad even put his arm around her for a good hug.  No display of affection, many hard words.

I think Dad loved me like a daughter, but for Mom I was always her niece.  She was kind and loving by nature and the only Mom I had, but the mother-daughter bond wasn’t really there.  We never worked together at home until I was thirteen; I was left to shift for myself most of my growing up years.

Visiting her about fifteen years ago I wanted to talk about Dad’s anger and abuse, but didn’t get very far.  “He spoiled you,” she told me.  After that I didn’t see much need to go on.  For whatever reason, she never knew what effect it did have on me.  But her remark left me with the feeling I’m just a whiner, my bad memories are grossly exaggerated, the abuse was imagined.

Then I remember that I was married for ten years before I quit having nightmares about my Dad and his explosive anger.  For a few years after that I only had nightmares if I talked about him much during the day.  Thankfully the nightmares finally did quit.  I was married for closer to 20 years before I stopped cringing after I said anything to my husband that I knew might make him mad, fearing he’d hit me, even though he never has.

Looking back now, it seems this is someone else’s life story I’m telling you, a book I read and finished some years back.  I’m not telling everyone these things so you’ll say, “Oh, poor you!” or impress you with how much I’ve suffered.  I’m writing this to say “God is ABLE.”

Wonderful news: God is not only the Master Healer, but He has His Master’s in Psychology, too!   We don’t need to spend big bucks on high-priced therapy sessions; God knows what makes us tick and why we tick “funny” sometimes.  Why we explode on certain issues.  Why we cy in pain or rage when some memories are triggered.

At times shrinks and therapists are helpful, but they can only act on what you tell them.  If I’d tell a psychiatrist that my parent abused me, he’d likely say, “Well, that’s why you have these issues.” (Anger, fear, etc.)  He’d tell me what I can do to get over and around some of my feelings, what situations to avoid.  But he can’t work miracles.

Our Heavenly Father can.  God can take us farther and deeper than any shrink, sometimes back before we even have a clear memory of the abuse or incident.  He can show us the root cause of some of our strange emotions and how they’ve manifested themselves through our lives.  We may learn that a single incident has affected our thinking or behaviour for years.  But He doesn’t leave us to deal with the fallout from now on.  He heals us.  He fixes that odd tick.

He’s done that for me.  I no longer shudder with the same terrifying fear like I used to when out in the dark at night.  (I want to write about that healing someday.  It WAS a miracle!)  I can go to a funeral and view a dead body without the intense feeling of disgust I once had, because God took me back to an incident that happened when I was four and fixed the odd tick that started then through a childish misconception.

Abuse in any form is damaging.  We never want to justify it.  We can never say, “It’s not so bad  if I scream at the kids.  God can fix it someday.”  This is a serious matter with Him.  Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19  (No kidding.  He does.  I’ve seen it.)

Jesus said that if anyone offend one of these little ones (causes a child to stumble), it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck and he’d be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2)

But we live in a sinful world and Life has a lot of hard knocks.  Parents can’t possibly protect their children from every misunderstanding or know every time their child picks up an odd tick.   We can’t expect to escape some abuses as we go along – and maybe we are imperfect enough that we bring some on ourselves as we get older. The great news is that our God is ABLE.

I knew a lady who would have liked to have a family, but she didn’t for fear she’d repeat the same abuse with her family that she’d suffered at home.  I know of two men who were afraid to get married in case their own marriages would fail like their parents’ did – that they’d walk out someday the same way their dad had.  We may hesitate to commit to a relationship because we know we’re broken – we won’t have enough love to give–but God’s plan would be to heal us through receiving another’s love.

It’s like climbing a mountain: with each step we take we are distancing ourselves from the world we once knew.  But now and then we look down and fear we may go tumbling right back to the bottom again.  We’d end up right back where we were.  Learned behaviour and all that.

We forget that when we have given ourselves to God in a total surrender, He wraps us in His care.  He’s up above us and has a firm hold on the safety line wrapped around us; He won’t let us fall.  We may blow a fuse now and then and slip back, we may stumble over some rocks, we may have to pick ourselves up and say “I’m sorry; I overreacted,” to our loved ones.  But He will be there to keep us from disaster. (II Chronicles 16:9)

(Unless we ourselves deliberately and constantly, with the knife of secret sin, saw away at that line.  Slice through all the warnings the Holy Spirit gives us.  That’s the only time we’re apt to have a major free-fall.)

Of ourselves, we may be poorly prepared to face life’s challenges, but GOD is ABLE.

MY DAD: A Troubled Man

Ancient History 101 B:

I must have stayed with Dad for about a year then Mom came and took me back to Saskatoon with her while Dad stayed there alone for awhile longer.  I don’t know why, seeing she worked full-time and had no means of looking after me except to leave me with babysitters.  Did she get wind of some abuse she wanted to get me away from?  I never asked her –and she likely wouldn’t have said, either.

I remember being alone a lot, usually left with older ladies trying to earn a little income from babysitting.  I remember one old lady giving me a big spoon and putting me in her back yard, where I dug around in her garden for hours on end.  Mom told me that at one point Verne was “babysitting” me by taking me to his job in a garage and leaving me in his car all day.  When you were poor you did what you had to do, I guess.  Probably this was where I developed my great imagination!

Some months later Dad rented the farm to a neighbour and came to Saskatoon, too.  We all lived together with a relative for a few months until we got our own place.  Verne had a job; I don’t remember him being around much.

One day when I was five and Verne was 17, he and Dad got into an argument over which TV channel to watch and there was a little scuffle that ended by Dad throwing Verne out of the house.  I never saw or heard any negative reaction from Mom over the incident, but it must have broken her heart.  And Verne didn’t enter our home again for seven years!  He was married the next year; Mom and I went to the wedding but Dad wouldn’t go.

My Mom and Dad F were so opposite.  Mom was an easy-going, have a good time sort of person and a very loving mother to her son.  Dad has no use for boys; Verne got a lot of lickings and I’m sure they were delivered with the same fury I remember when it came my turn to get one.  Dad “boxed my ears” constantly, but never spanked until he’d exploded.

Mom could get along with almost anyone, perhaps didn’t feel responsibility like she should have, especially in spending.  On the other hand she was a hard worker, she put up with a lot and didn’t contradict Dad very often.

Dad was moody, sullen, a perfectionist by nature, seemingly never satisfied.  Hard-headed, very WASP, somewhat bitter about life and disgusted with all the yoyos around him!  His Dad had never showed him any love and he never really reconciled himself to that, plus he went away to war (though not as a combatant) and Mom says he was worse when he got home.  Dad had only a few good friends – until/unless they said or did something that annoyed him.  That was usually the end of the friendship

His health wasn’t good and he had to be hospitalized a few times because of his ulcers, plus his work as a carpenter was scarce during the winter, so Mom was the main bread-winner during those first years.  Perhaps this all frustrated Dad?  I don’t know‒but living with him was far from pleasant.

Looking back now, I’m sure he just wanted to correct the error of my ways but at the time it felt like he hated me.  He told me constantly how pitifully stupid and useless I was and how “You’re going to end up a lazy old sow like your mother.”  Perhaps his own father talked to him this way all the time and he was simply passing it on.  Quite likely I was an overly-sensitive child, which made things worse.  My sister Donna stayed with us a few months and she just let his growling bounce off, but I found that verbal abuse very destructive.