“Thank you for being there, for checking on me, and always making me laugh. Thank you for being my father and my friend.”
I wrote this in my Father’s Day card yesterday. I hadn’t seen my dad since my grandmother’s funeral this past February, and our quick dinner at the local barbeque place felt wholly inadequate. I miss him and I miss the closeness we used to share. I want to say so much to him about all the ways he failed as a father and all the ways he succeeded too. There just never seems to be the right time or the right place
I suppose I should be grateful. At least we have a relationship at all. My siblings each fall between indifferent, indecisive, and angry at my father. My family, as with many families, has troubling histories and harmful cycles to face, but anger and fear, however justified, prove to be painful obstacles.
None of us can control any other and doing our best, being self-aware, open, encouraging, and willing has only so much impact on the behavior of others. They have to want it too. They have to be ready and they have to see a reason. They have to see your reason and no amount of explanation alone can force it. Having patience while gently, gently planting seeds and setting good examples is all you can do.
And this, I think, is the job of any big sister but to be the oldest sibling means bearing both the burden and the blessing of radical love and acceptance and it has to be held for the self as much as for others.
[I]f the father works and the mother works, nobody is left to watch the kids. In societies where these families constitute the majority, either government acknowledges the situation and helps provide child care (as many European countries do) or child care becomes a luxury affordable for the affluent, and a major problem for everyone else.
Tonight we saw my dad for his father’s day celebration. As always, it was a wonderful visit, and as always I wish there wasn’t that strange gap between us. It’s a hole that opened between us the day I was born, I imagine, and though it’s width has grown no wider since that day its depth has gone beyond our ability to fathom and our courage to leap over.
Such gaps between parents and their children are common, but each one is unique. The one between my father and I, from where I stand, is made of all my love, and all my anger, and all my wondering and regret. Its depth is all he couldn’t give and all my incessant wanting.
I’m sure from where he stands it must look different. From his side it may be darker, made of much more past and much more pain. I know this and for this reason I hold his hand above the fissure and squeeze it in forgiveness. For this reason, I ask nothing more than what I know is possible. This is my gift.
Tonight we had dinner with my dad. I love seeing him, but it’s hard seeing him too. There are things bubbling below the surface: pain, misunderstanding, trauma, abandonment, and all sorts of questions too complicated to ask and answers too deep to dig from the past. At the same time though, there is so much love, and pride, and a connection that runs DNA deep.
It’s strange how all the same pain and confusion can exist between mothers and daughters too and yet with time the relationship develops quite differently and both end up nearly opposite from where they began. I was always a daddy’s girl but the older I get the closer I grow to my mom and the further away from my father I feel.
I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. I think it’s simply about gender and experience. I think it’s part of the process of growing from your parent’s child to their friend. I know my mother and she knows me now in a way I can never know or be known by my father. I feel a comradeship with her connected to the pain of being a woman that I know now my father will never understand.
In my father is my past and in my mother, my future.
Finally, the true Friday has arrived. I’d planned to take the day off from work but I felt guilty knowing I only really needed the afternoon, plus I wanted the extra hours of pay, plus I secretly kind of wanted to be there for our annual end of the year party, so I agreed to come in for half the day.
My little sister, the youngest and last of us all, is graduating from high school tonight. She’s the reason I took off early and the reason I’m feeling so good. I’m proud of her and, I will admit, a little jealous. I’m somewhat jealous of all my younger siblings.
I know in reality they are living their lives the first and only time the same as me, but in my heart, it feels like they are getting the second chance I will never get. They got to learn from me, while I had no one to make my mistakes first. *
I’m so happy for them, but damn does it sting for me.
*Well, I had my parents, but somehow the more we resist them the more we become like them. Parent’s live the nightmare of watching their worst mistakes made again no matter how hard they try to teach, protect, or control their children.
Where the rain of last week made every day a repeat of Monday, this week’s sunshine is giving us perpetual Fridays. I’m not sure which is worse. Mondays are bleak, sure, but having to keep on remembering over and over again that freedom is not, in fact, just hours away is rather more disappointing.
I didn’t write or read as much as I had hoped to and spent too much of the day walking around and socializing, a big change from yesterday’s feeling though by the afternoon I’d had my fill.
I’m happy to be home now with my fiance, our dog, the cat, and, yes, even the snakes.
This is a home.
This is a family.
This is peace.
P.S. I did some more blog things today. I cleaned up the more recent personal posts at Zen and Pi and am preparing to revive it soon and the accompanying newsletter. Now all I have left to do is the actual writing
And suddenly it’s summer. The heat today feels oppressive and the knowledge the worse is yet to come is worrisome. The upside is I can finally get back to taking daily walks which will soon become jogs and will soon after that become my morning runs. The downside is I am sweating and I hate sweating.
Tonight I’m spending time with my family celebrating a belated Mother’s Day. So much must be put off now that the end of the year is approaching and work hours are (paradoxically) extending but I’m glad we made time to be with people we love. I sometimes forget how revitalizing laughter can be, and how the reinforcing connections can strengthen us for the return to life’s chaos and confusion.
In a since-deleted tweet, or perhaps it was a since-deletedTumblr post, I’m not sure and I can’t for the life of me find it now, I read something that changed the way I look at my life. It said something like: “People that have the support of their family/friends really got life on easy mode.”
My youngest sister, just out of high school and coping with a new job and the confusion of the adult world managed to plan a surprise party for my mom the night before her birthday. We all, despite our pasts, our harsh words and traumas, did what we always do. We came together in forgiveness, compassion, and love determined to make a member among us feel special. There was no bitterness, there were no grudges, and I realize now that there will never be, no matter what.
I never considered that my life was on “easy mode” in any way, shape, or form but reading that post and juxtaposing it against the love and laughter I experienced tonight I know that in at least one way I kind of do.
Considering the number of drinks I had last night I’m doing surprisingly well this morning. I’m up late, sure, but I’m up. The headache is minor but my limbs are very sore. That has nothing to do with the drinks and instead everything to do with the children left in my charge last night. They were heavy and wild, jumping into my arms and running me ragged through the night.
There was plenty of dancing too, which I think is why my feet hurt so much, but I’m not complaining. It was worth it to be last on the dance floor with my sisters. We were carefree, sipping our last drinks and requesting all of our favorites. It devastated us that the party had to end, but I’m making a mental note for my own wedding this summer that there must be an after party planned for those who want to hold on to the night just a little longer.
We said goodbye to my sister and her kids this morning after brunch. I’m glad we got just a little more time together, but I’m always sad to see them go. Life is better when we are all together, but I understand why they needed to move away. They needed to see a new place and to find independence. They wanted to start a new life, not just for them but for their kids, and their kids’ kids, and for generations to come.
I envy them; I disagree with them, but most of all I just miss them.
Today is the big day! Not our big day, but my brother’s and I couldn’t be happier, more excited, or more stressed out for him.
I’m spending the morning with my mother, my sister who flew in from Texas and her kids. Our other sister is a bridesmaid, so she is with the wedding party and my fiance is the photographer and is documenting the happy couple as they get ready.
I’m tired and anxious, ready to get to the ceremony and ready to get through the night. Being the sister of the groom is a weird position. You’re important, but your role is less than if you were the sister of the bride.
I don’t know what my role is, but I’m desperate to find one, to be useful and to stay busy.
We’ve come to the end of a beautiful night. I had much more fun than I expected to and this is the first wedding that I can honestly say I was sad to see it end though; I hope it won’t be the last. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t mine.
That isn’t to say mine will be better, because I don’t think it will, but it will be mine and sometimes we love something more for our possession of it alone.