Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fatherthoughts and Afterthoughts


My father has always been emotionally distant. For my daughter's birthday, my mother asked if we could go online to chat. The rest of the family misses the baby terribly and so I obliged. In attendance were my two younger brothers and my mother. Father joined in only for a time; within a few minutes of the family conversation, he was gone.


When I asked mother where he went, she simply said that he was in the next room watching "Marley and Me." "Marley and Me," ladies and gentlemen. What exactly was so great about this film that my own father would choose to forego conversation with me just so he can watch it? I didn't pay attention to this detail all throughout chatting with my siblings and mother only to be bothered by it now.


Let me go back to my first sentence. I can't really be sure when my father became as distant as he is. I also do not know why, although I have a few guesses. First, I think his distance stems from the fact that we were never close. He wasn't present during many milestones in my life: birth, debut, graduations, recognition days, motherhood, and so on. Second is perhaps he chooses to be uninvolved because of our knowledge of each other. He knows that there's an apology owed but can't give (For what reason again, I do not know.). The third reason I attribute to tiredness. He does work for minimum wage now, being a seasoned architect and all. This is damaging to his pride, thus leaving him more exhausted than usual. But then again, many people use exhaustion as an excuse when they wish to avoid confronting the things that matter.


Where am I in this? Where am I standing? Am I hurt? Do I care enough? If yes, how exactly?


I have yet to find the most precise answers for these questions. And maybe there may be no precise answers--- my beliefs will change as I do, thus affecting the way I think and feel. But what I do see clearly at the moment is a parallelism.


My father was absent and he continues to be. He was role model for a time, a long time ago, before I became aware of the irrevocable and damaging things he has done. My child, right now, also doesn't have a father. I also predict that she will be deprived of the "role model phase," given X's current state. This is bound to affect her severely and probably negatively. All I can do right now is to change our reality by doing my best to play the roles of mother and father effectively. I'm doing just that and I feel like I'm finding my way through the dark; I can't afford to have any missteps.


Parenting is a job designed for two, yes. But I now think that I turned out quite alright even with my father's absence and distance. I also turned out fine, given my mother's temperament. Who parented me then?


I used to think my family had little influence over me. I have always been independent. It's a lovely thing, but I sure craved having parents (who were not just physically present) from time to time.* In fact, my acceptance of family relationships is new. It was a hard lesson to learn. I was told that I could crave and mourn all I want, but it won't really get me anywhere.


Amazingly, I was able to vault the fence.  I was able to tear down walls and be a little more at peace with myself in this respect. At first, I couldn't articulate to myself how it happened. I had to come across Ian Mc Ewan's 'Black Dogs,' so I could explain to myself what I could not. The main character says that the best way to retrieve a lost parent is to become one yourself.


I couldn't agree more.  

*The feeling was most intense when I became a single mother. I felt like a kid with a kid.


"Enjoy the little things."


-Tallahassee from 'Zombieland'


(September 9, 2010)  


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