Anything I want to be… or so my Dad was sure to tell me on a regular basis. Growing up with a single dad was virtually unheard of back in the 70′s & 80′s. But when the birth mother left, he didn’t have much of a choice. As a single mother now, (I have two boys), I can’t even imagine what he went through back then without the support of even an online community!
I have brief memories of being under seven and living with my Dad and my older sister (she is sixteen months older than I). I do remember feeling very happy, very lucky and very loved. I remember idolizing my big sister – and being babied by everyone from aunts and uncles to cousins and family friends.
The differences between my sister and I were apparent from a very early age and our first and only Barbies really reflected this. Always the tomboy, my sister was the one who instilled fear in anyone wanting to bully her little sister, (her Barbie was Western Barbie, cheeky – she could wink, and she was outdoorsy). Always the “girly girl”, my Barbie gift was the “Pink & Pretty” doll that I whispered my many secrets to. Meanwhile my single Dad curled my hair and dressed me in pink as often as I wanted.
Aside from taking care of our basic needs, it is his legacy of encouragement and motivation that I carry with me even twenty years after his death. My Dad always told me I was smart. Placed in advanced classes until grade seven, my Father was proud of my grades and abilities. I would often hear him announcing my scholastic achievements to his coffee buddies, reinforcing my belief that he truly felt I was someone special.
From a very early age, it was assumed that I would go to University, this topic was never discussed as an option, just a reality of what was to come. Always the entrepreneur, my Father discussed business with me including goals and ambitions and we decided that after University I would come back and help him grow his business. Unfortunately his early death accorded this dream unworkable. However, it is his example of enthusiasm, entrepreneurship and encouragement that I follow in my own businesses.
I admire my Father for being a single dad when it was not mainstream, but I admire even more the fact that he talked to me as a grown-up and instilled a sense of self-worth in me at a very early age. As he followed his dreams of entrepreneurship, he set an example for me to dream big and work for my dreams. Now when I talk to my extended family about a new idea, a new business, a new opportunity, they look at me and see a bit of my Father shining through – his enthusiasm, his sense of wonder and definitely his daughter.