WARNING: this post is going to be as whiny and selfish as humanly possible. If that bothers you, quit reading and go find some goth girls in trees to look at.
I was having a crisis today. I’m writing you here because frankly, I don’t think anyone ever reads this thing, and the chances of you ever bothering to do something that changes your world are as remote as Bhopal to Lacrosse,WI. But I’m adressing you because I keep having one thought, over and over again that you’ve never had.
Lots of days, I think I suck as a parent. Fuck that, there are days when I know I suck as a parent. There are days when I look at my girl, and all I can think of are all the bad things I’ve given her. TV, Video games, bad food, ignorance, neurosis, for a start. The fact that the best thing I do for my daughter is take her to the park so she has other kids to play with speaks volumes about my failure as a parent. There are other adults who can sit and play for hours with their kids, without running out of things to do with them. I’m not one of them. At times, I get too self absorbed, and resort to video games or TV as a babysitter, even when I’m home.
In short, I follow the lessons in parenting you and mom instilled in me long ago. Make sure he gets good grades, make sure he’s not dressed in rags, but when it comes to actual love and affection, don’t bother. Plop them in front of a TV set, or send him to his room, so he’ll be out of the way. I work six days a week(just like you used to) and pretty much don’t have a life outside of work(just like you), and there are days when I just want to come home, lock myself in a room, and scream into a pillow for six hours.
Here’s the big difference between me and you dad: I admit I have a problem. So yes, I may not play as much with her, but I do play with her , or try to interact with her every day. Which is something you never bothered with until Mom left. Thank the gods I married a woman who has a clue about child rearing, and a sense of fun. She also has family who understand that, and try to include Aubry in stuff, and make an effort so she has experiences that aren’t tied to a screen. You tried to, dad, but six thousand trips to the lumberyard aren’t going to replace not a single trip to a ball game, or museum, or anything that showed life outside of work and repairing the house. Evne if she didn’t have all that, there’s one thing I do that you could never be bothered to:
I love her.
I get her off to school, I read to her, I tickle her and tease her. I love to listen to her sing along to the radio, she makes up the words if she doesn’t know them. I tell her when she’s wrong, and I praise her every chance I get. I’ve had bad days where I’ve gone off on her, and the look in her eyes from those days crushes me every time I think about it. I make sure the last words she hears every night or when I leave her side are “I love you Aubry”, bcause Gods forbid I get taken out in the night or while I’m away, The last thing she’ll have heard from me is the most important thing any kid can know: That their parent(s) love them.
Pity you couldn’t be bothered, Dad. I fucking hate, hate HATE the song “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, because frankly, I lived it for my entire childhood. I can’t recall you ever playing with me once. All the games other kids grew up with, like Chutes and Ladders, I played in school. I can’t recall a single thing we did together as a family, except go visit your folks. Well, there was the infamous family vacation in 76, but really, since we only went to the spots you wanted to, how fun was that?
I admit, to your mind, I was a spectacular failure as a child. Needy, sickly , and small. Of course, flowers stunt when you don’t water them, Dad. Aubry’s proof of that. She grows bigger every day, and we feed her love.
I wish I was a better man, Dad. That I didn’t learn all you taught me so well. That I’m so afraid of not having a job that I’ll stay at a crappy one just to survive, and not take a chance on a better one.I try not to discuss my job with Aubry, because really, what six year old needs to hear their father bitch about how much of a career failure he is.
I’m writing this, in part, as a part of a plan to myself to do better this year. Yeah, I’m already not perfect at it, but gods damn it, I’m trying, whihc is, after all, better than you.