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tales of something simple - July 2013

i believe

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

all types of chaos

daddy's girl

When my mom was 19 she found out that she was pregnant with me.  She also quickly found out that the level of interest my biological father had in having a baby was nil, and thus compassionately suggested she have an abortion.

Almost 27 years later, here I am.  Sorry sucker.

Throughout much of my life I have lacked a real “father” figure.  I didn’t know it at the time, simply because my mother was my mom and my dad.  Any other man in her life (and thus in mine) through two marriages that ultimately ended in divorce, were impermanent figures of what sometimes resembled a co-parent when it was convenient.  I called one man in my life “dad” and have not had a relationship with that person since I was about 12 years old.  The other, I called “dad” behind his back because it was easier than explaining it to my friends, but saying it to his face made me feel uncomfortable and awkward.  I was provided for financially and for that I offer respect in some shape and form.  However, when it came to everything else, my laundry, my meals, my curfew, my guidance, my everything–that was all my Mom.  It was kind of like every time I asked for something, needed something, all decisions were deferred to my mother.  It isn’t because they were bad dudes–don’t get me wrong, they had moments.  It was because being a step parent to a child that isn’t “yours” is hard, particularly when their mother is a fierce, dominant force to be reckoned with.  Ultimately step daddy, when you leave, mama gets to pick up all the pieces you shatter in your wake.  And she did.  Every time.

I did not truly struggle with the lack of a “daddy” until my late teens and early twenties.  My mother and step-father split up shortly after I became engaged and with that event came a Cinderella moment.  Not for me, but for him.  No more relationship with my mom apparently meant no more relationship with me.  Poof, he turned into a rotten pumpkin.  He was not invited to my wedding.  He did not walk me down the aisle.  The outstanding, recently inked wedding contracts he had just signed fell to our laps.  He has never apologized his lack of absence as a result of their marital divide or his evaporating love.  My grandfather (my mom’s dad), proudly held my hand as he escorted me toward my future husband, donning a bright orange bow-tie and black cowboy boots with his tux–a request I would never deny approval of for the only unconditionally, constantly supportive man of my entire life.  He never left me.  He never stopped cheering on my sidelines.  He never stopped videotaping or taking pictures at any game, recital, concert, or event he attended–which was dozens and dozens and dozens.  My grandfather is a man of integrity, faith, humble opinion and outward, relentless support.  If he can make it happen he will.  He is a man of his word.

They say sometimes women marry men that are most like their father.

I married a man most like my grandfather.

When I became pregnant with our first child my “daddy issues” came to a full, rapid boil.  I struggled with many emotions that I couldn’t always articulate properly to my husband.  I feared having a child with him would make me irrelevant as his wife.  Or having a baby would change our relationship to such an extreme that either he would resent our child for changing our life so drastically and leave, or worse yet, leave me alone in the same house to parent.  I never had a model of what co-parenting really looked like.  My mom did everything for me, while someone else did something else, anything else, but be my dad.  How would we, together, emulate the type of parents I wanted us to be when I had never had anything close to an appropriate example to model?

We didn’t know that we were having a girl.  I knew my husband not-so-secretly desired a boy as his side of the family was already flooded with girls and the pressure to carry on the family name was on.  I’ll never forget watching him hold her for the first time.  He just couldn’t stop smiling at her.  I remember how awkwardly he held her the first several weeks, unsure of how to comfort her and not break her all at the same time.  I remember how supportive he was and how much more intuative he seemed to be than even me, especially at first.  He was always changing diapers, trying new burp techniques and offering words of comfort when I felt overwhelmed.

On her fifth day of life I sat in our bed crying because my milk hadn’t come in yet and the baby seemed so, so hungry.  He sat on our bedroom floor with the obscene amount of post partum and breastfeeding literature we had acquired over the months of pregnancy and I recall him shouting out, over a crying newborn, “have you tried warm compresses?  Have you tried massaging your breasts?  Have you taken a hot shower while massaging your breasts?”  It is so comical and endearing to me now.  And his suggestions to try a shower and boob massage did do the trick.  Within an hour our daughter had a milk mustache–one indirectly given by her daddy.

Another time in those first few weeks, a scene that would be repeated over many months, my husband just took the baby in the middle of the night and said “you.  You are going to sleep.”  He supported my strong will to breastfeed but also cut me off when he knew I was at my sleepless night breaking point and acknowledged that while no, he couldn’t feed her, he could help in other ways.  And although he was my rock and he was adapting well to his new role in life he struggled too.  He confided in me one night, I’ll never forget rocking our daughter in her room while he sat on the floor next to me, telling me something that at the time seemed so hard to hear.  He shared with me what a lack of connection he felt to our baby.  It wasn’t that he didn’t love her, but he hadn’t had that magical moment he was expecting.  She was maybe four weeks old and when she looked at him he felt like she didn’t see her daddy.  I don’t know what that means, but I imagine he expected some kind of recognition from her that told him “I know who you are.”  He loved her, but he just didn’t know her yet.  She would cry if I ever tried to leave the house and would spit bottles back at him like it was poison.  He struggled.  He got frustrated.  He never gave up.  He figured it out.  They figured it out together.  Their bond grew over months and as she became more aware of her surroundings and he learned her personality they blossomed together.

Our daughter is now 21 months old and there is no bigger smile on either of their faces than when they both meet eyes from across the room. When he is at work she asks for him often.  When she kisses him she grabs the tufts of his beard fur and goes “I wuv you much.”  Everywhere we go people comment on just how much they look alike.  They play games, sing songs, and do things quietly together in the corner of her playroom that I am not apart of.  They have their own world, their own relationship and I happily observe.  Sure, I’m certainly the preference for bedtime, or for kissing boo-boo’s or soothing fevers in the middle of the night.  But she will never look at me in the same way that she does her father and for that, I am never jealous.

My husband will never be able to comprehend the insane happiness and fulfillment I hold when I see him play his best role: that of a daddy.  My own biological father not only had no desire to parent me as he found out that my mother was pregnant, but even after meeting me as a semi-adult at 17, he continued to stress that not only was I not his daughter (to everyone in his personal life, including my own biological grandparents who had no idea I even existed until I told them at the age of 18), he had absolutely no interest in having a relationship with me on any level whatsoever.  It is hard to be 17 and know your own story and know that the man whose DNA you possess, whose long lean legs you acquired, whose nose you have on your face, whose love of poetry and writing you share…to know that this person does not love you.  They do not speak to you.  They do not acknowledge you.  They were never there for you.  They never will be.

And this bothered me.  It really, really bothered me.

Until the bond between my daughter and her daddy was born.

I now get to have everything my mother never did.  Instead of being angry at my own biological father for that, I admire and respect my mother more for doing something I could never of wrapped my own head around until also becoming a mother.  Meanwhile, I express my appreciation and love for my husband who gives me something no one else ever could.  He gave me the opportunity to heal something I knew was broken and that I thought would never be fixed.  I no longer care that my own “daddy” never tucked me in or coached my softball games.  I don’t care that he didn’t take me to piano practice or attempt to poorly french braid my hair.  I don’t care that he never got angry at a boyfriend for breaking my heart or punish me for breaking the rules.  I am sure he has done his parental duties for the two son’s he has chosen to raise with his wife and I hope they have gotten a great dad out of him.  They can have him.  Because I have learned that I don’t need him.

I didn’t need him around for my husband to ask my hand in marriage.

Do you know why?

Because my mother single handedly raised one intelligent, responsible, and wise daughter who could decide for herself.

If I looked back I could see holes of where he should have been, could have been and chose repeatedly not to be.

Instead I look at what I have in front of me and it is better than I ever could have imagined.  My daughter will grow up with a real man, a selfless man, who thinks of her in every action he makes.  He thinks of me too.  I don’t do this alone.  I am never up with a sick kid by myself and I always have someone on the pillow next to mine who is ready and willing to listen to my current challenges as a mom and figure it out with me.  I am never in this alone.  My daughter will always have us both, who are committed to standing on those soccer field sidelines together no matter what it takes.  Because we love each other and we love her enough to always remember that without that foundation we had before her we could never be as good as we are today.

For the past 21 months, every day for is Fathers Day for me.  Every day I internally, and externally, appreciate, respect, honor and adore the father that my husband is.

I will never be a “daddy’s girl.”

But my Marley will be.  She will be.

 

 


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