Monday, June 16, 2008

A Word About Fathers

I wanted to talk about WB's first Father's Day, which was just lovely. We had a wonderful afternoon driving through the country and going for a wine tasting at a local winery. It was sweet and romantic and we had a great time. But I don't want to write about that, I want to write about fathers. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, ok, the good and the bad.

I've been having a very difficult time with my father lately. And by difficult I mean he reduces me to tears at least twice a week. And by tears I mean big huge messy bouts of sobbing. (Maybe this is where the ugly comes in?) He's been spending every weekend with his new girlfriend- the girlfriend that he started dating a mere month after my mother died. My mother that he was married to for almost 39 years. He barely waited for rigor mortis to set in. Needless to say I had a bit of a hard time listening to him tell me how he was in love with her, so I asked him to please respect my grief and not talk to me about her. After the 5th request (and at the behest of numerous friends and WB) he complied. Since then things have been strained, to say the least. He doesn't really want to talk at all if he can't talk about her, and I'm sure the only reason he sees us is to see the LFM.

50% of my immediate family have died, and the ones left standing when the smoke cleared were the ones who always clashed the most. He is all I have left of my original family, and yeah, I know I'm creating a new family...but that doesn't just automatically replace the need for the old one, you know?

So this has all come to a head with several recent conversations. The other week, when I told him I needed a Dad, he said he was perfectly willing to be there for me, as long as it was a weekday. When I asked if maybe he could take just one weekend away from his weekend for us, for his grandson..he said no, he didn't want to. We could see him any time on the weekdays and on the weekends if we want his girlfriend to be a part of things as well. That was hurtful. He was essentially telling me that he places this new woman above his only living child, above his grandchild. WB was so horrified upon hearing my father say these things that he had to walk away, lest he blurt out exactly what he was thinking.

But that conversation seems like the sweetest sonnet in comparison to the cruelty that was tonight's conversation. A conversation in which I mostly sobbed and asked "why are you treating me like this? why are you speaking to me like this? Please stop yelling at me!" while he ranted at me for 20 minutes. The conversation began innocuously...we were talking about the house hunting that WB and I are about to embark on. Then he starts in on how we don't really want his advice (live in the county, not the city...which would probably make us fairly miserable) and how we should just do whatever the hell we wanted. I was trying to discuss the pros and cons of both options, trying to have a discussion about this major life decision and he starts yelling at me about how tired he is of hearing me talk things to death and how I should just go buy a house and not think about it so much. That I think things to death and just go do it and shut up about it. How he doesn't want to hear about it, just take Mimi's money and have fun with it and stop acting like everything is the end of the world.

At which point I try to tell him that I want to share these things with him because he's my family, and I always talked everything through with my mother. But he doesn't want to hear that. He's begun this tirade, and the momentum is clearly overpowering him. He starts yelling at me about how I'm 32 years old, and how at 32 he didn't call his dad and ask him for advice or want to talk things over with him. Evidently in his world there is an age limit to being someone's child...and expiration date on fatherhood. He continued onward to tell me that he doesn't want to hear about my feelings, because he doesn't really care how I feel, and he's tired of me being so down about everything (yes, he actually said this). I, of course, was crying this whole time, and trying desperately to understand where all this was coming from. I told him that I just needed him to be my dad, to love and support me, and that wasn't a ridiculous thing to ask for, even at 32. He asked what that means, to support someone, and said that if it means listening to me complain he wasn't willing to do it. He told me that he wants me to call him, tell him one or two little unimportant things about my life and hang up. That's it. No talk about feelings, no talk about anything. That I should talk to WB about how I feel, but not him, he doesn't want to hear it. He said he would never be the father I wanted him to be, so I should just get used to it. He mocked me when I asked him why he was speaking to me like this, and that I didn't deserve it, actually repeating it back to me in a mocking a little child does.

This is a man who has already lost one child to suicide, you'd think he'd be a little more sensitive to a daughter who's going through a pretty bad depression. But no, he was anything but sensitive as he literally yelled over everything I tried to say. It was amazing, really, and horribly hurtful. And it was completely out of the blue, we were just talking about houses. And I'm not even asking him for help with any of this (though we totally need help), I was just telling him what the mortgage people said and going over possibilities with him. When the conversation went downhill he still kept bringing up the house stuff, saying I should just take the money and buy a house and have fun with it, and I kept saying this isn't about buying a house, Dad, this is about us.

He's my only family left, and he was cruel to me. I would classify that horrible conversation as doesn't read that way, but picture me sobbing while he yelled all those things at me, unprovoked, and maybe you'll get more of an idea. Then multiply it by 1000.

All this has made me so very thankful for WB, and the wonderful father that he is. Not only would the LFM never have to even say "I need you", if he ever did the request would be met immediately with a flood of love and support and never with derision. I am thankful that this is all unfathomable to WB, because I know and trust that our children will never, at any age, feel abandoned by their parents.

It also made me fantasize about skipping town with no forwarding address. Seriously.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

my cup runneth over

i'm sitting here typing one handed because i'm holding the world's most adorable sleeping baby in my arms...i can't put him down, he's too sweet like this, and i know these moments are limited and will be gone in the blink of an eye so i must put aside all other things and just enjoy sharing this time with him. the smell of his head, the feel of his little baby arms around me, the little sighs and baby snores...these are the things i want to capture in words on this blog so that i never forget them, and its precisely these sweet moments that can never be encapsulated by something like letters and punctuation. these moments can only exist in the heart, and right now mine feels overflowing with blessing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Start Spreading the News

At Uncle Nick's in the old hood
With Auntie Monkey
And Aunt Mica
With Daddy and Aunt Shea
At Vinyl, yet again hanging on 9th ave in the old hood
Flying with Uncle David in Balsley Park
My Two Loves
With Uncle Artsy Hotpants

Like the truly insane people we seem to have become (three cheers for sleep deprivation) on Memorial Day weekend we packed up the 'ol hybrid and set forth on an epic journey northward, to the place where it all began...New York City. This was the LFM's first trip outside of the womb, and our first family trip since we moved last August. Ummm, New York, we didn't really mean to leave...I mean, when we said we needed space, we just meant temporarily. We didn't want to break up or anything. Sure, we're living with Richmond now, but that doesn't mean're the one we love, we swear. No one knows us like you one brings out our very best selves like you do. No one does restaurants and pizza like you do. And no one titillates our creative senses like you do. New York, we desperately want to get back together, one day, if we can ever afford it. We're still madly in love with you, and we probably always will be. We haven't discussed it or anything, but I think we both still fantasize about you. And going back? Just made our hearts break all over again.