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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Family Tangles

Up until Thanksgiving, I hadn’t spoken to my dad since April, shortly after I got back from Colorado after my mom died.

There were too many things tangled in my head.  At first, it was just pure shock and grief.  Then there was an unresolved resentment and anger that left me feeling that if I did say anything at all, it would be the kind of thing that one wishes one could take back and just absolutely can’t.  Better to keep quiet, I thought, and mend fences later, than to burn bridges that can never be rebuilt.  So, I just let things sit.  May came and went, the raw emotions of Mother’s Day too tender to even touch.  Then June, which would have held celebration of my mom’s 55th birthday, also came and went. 

With June, Father’s Day also went uncelebrated, at least in regards to my father.  I could have, no, should have sent a card.  I could have sent a card that was simple and impersonal, like so many people do, and left it at that.  But I knew that nothing short of the gushy phone call I usually do would serve, not for either of us.  Not that my dad is sentimental or sappy or at all interested in such things, it’s just that, well, that’s what’s expected.  That’s who I am and what I do and if I don’t do it, it’s automatically assumed that something is wrong.  And something was wrong, but I didn’t really know how to broach the subject (or if to broach it) with my dad.  So I left it.  I still figured it’d be easier to apologize for not saying something than trying to make up for saying the wrong thing.  Still, it left things sticky and tricky and even more so when my I spoke with my sister on the phone and she was fit to be tied that I had so upset everyone by not calling.  Because.  I am supposed to be supporting my dad.  Because.  He lost his wife.  Nevermind that I lost my mom and that I’d known him for years longer than he had.


Honestly, up until the point when my sister decided to freak out on me about what a terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad person I was, I was starting to come around and feel that I could get back on track again with my dad.  I was thinking of sending a belated card and gift, just something small, to say, “Hey, sorry, hope it was a good Father’s Day, just got wrapped up with other stuff and didn’t get around to sending this,” or some other trivia. excuse.  But when my sister decided to play judge, jury and executioner against my family crimes, well, that sort of threw me back into a stubborn and childish position of, “I don’t wanna and you can’t make me!”  So I went with it.  Right, wrong, indifferent, I decided I wasn’t going to talk to my dad simply because my sister told me I had to.

That was August.

And here it is the end of November and I finally called my dad.

The conversation was typical.  It was primarily small talk about the weather, Dad’s work, the kids, TDO’s work (my dad is much more inclined to ask about TDO than me) and, well, that was about it.  I did pass the phone on to Sebastian and Jenica (Devon was busy at the time) and they spoke with him for about 8 seconds each (no joke) but that was about it, until my dad asked Jenica if we were going to visit him for Christmas.  Jenica insisted that yes we were.  Uhhhh? Whaaat?  I hastily retrieved the phone and made for a quick phone exit but before I could escape my dad asked, “So you are coming out for Christmas, right?  I took Christmas off.”  What. The.  Hell?

At no point have we (either TDO or myself) ever committed to going back to Colorado for Christmas.  We’ve mentioned wanting to.  I think I DID mention to friends that I really wanted to go back for Thanksgiving, but again, that was never solidified.  TDO certainly can’t (and hasn’t been able to since he took his current job) take time off in December, and it seems so ... out of the blue?  I’m not sure at all where my dad got the idea that we were going back for Christmas.  It was crushing to tell him that no we weren’t, because he genuinely seemed disappointed.  I’m baffled, though.  I mean, sure, I’m a bitch, a bad daughter, whatever you want to call me for not calling him since April, but… he hasn’t called ME either!  He never calls.  Ever.  And when I do call, it’s generally a very… hmm… forced phone call.  That isn’t to say he’s unhappy about talking to me, just that he doesn’t have a lot to say.  It’s more of an obligation than it is a joy.  Spending time in person is even worse. 

Things are all tangled in my head, now.  I really don’t know what to do.  I’m sort of tempted to just call my dad on his birthday (Dec. 9) and say, “Hey, for your birthday/Christmas present how about I send you a plane ticket.”  I know he won’t come in December, his work schedule is too demanding for him to be able to take enough time off, but maybe he’d be willing to come out when he can take some vacation time.  I’ve considered trying to bribe my sister into coming, too, but I don’t think she will.  Truthfully, it would just be better to have Dad here, on my turf, on my terms, than to try to deal with the emotional turmoil of going back there.  I just don’t want to go there - physically or emotionally - right now, and I don’t know when I’ll feel up to it. 

Part of me is so confused by all this because I honestly have felt that, well, my dad has five kids that are “his” kids and I guess I thought he’d sort of just bail ship on me and lean on his “real” kids rather than waiting around for his adopted daughter to be the leaning post.  Even though he’s always considered me a daughter and I have considered him my dad, things are complicated between us.  He gets along so easily with Mandy and Jerry, and even though he doesn’t always agree with Justin’s life choices, he’s definitely more attuned to his style of dealing with people and conversations than he is dealing with my style.  Then again, of all six kids, I’m the only one who’s willing and able to be 100% emotionally invested and available in any given moment.  (Sort of ironic, eh?)  It’s just expected that I’ll step up and be this mother hen who will nurture and care for the family, and frankly, I want to be that.  For my kids.  For my husband.  Not for my dad.  I can’t give to him that which he denied me my whole life.


Maybe.  Or maybe self preservation.

Posted by Liberty on 11/25 at 04:59 AM
Posted under: See-Through

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Krush  at  11/25/07 05:52 PM

I’d go with self-preservation. Worry about your kids and yourself and let your dad worry about himself and also let his kids pitch in.

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mamaerica  at  11/26/07 10:37 AM

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with self-preservation, sweetie.  Be the nurturing mother and wife that you need to be for your family.  Do what you can or feel you need to do for your dad, but you can’t give yourself completely to that cause and still be the kind of mom you want to be.  Frankly, “mom” comes before “daughter.”  (((hugs)))

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