I came across this picture while going through my mother's things. There are not many baby pictures of me... very few actually. I loved that stuffed dog and brought it everywhere. My father gave it to me. I only have one other thing he gave me when I was a little older, which came from one of his travels to South America, but I will save that for another post sometime.
I don't remember if I mentioned this here previously or not.
But, this past summer... my mother said something while we were talking on the phone that stopped me in my tracks. My mother said it in passing...like no big deal... but for me... it was like a neon sign suddenly flashing directly before me.
First of all...for my entire life, my mother has not spoken of my father...ever...unless I asked and even then she found ways to avoid my questions and if she did give an answer it was not without great prodding on my part... followed by guilt for my crossing that forbidden line.
I must've been asking her about my father and I don't remember in what context she said this... but she said that my father wanted her to put my snowsuit on because he wanted to bring me to some corner place to show me off because I was pretty.
I stopped her right there and asked "My father thought I was pretty?"
"Yes." She began to talk again and I again stopped her.
"Wait! He actually said I was pretty? ... so...he thought I was pretty???
"So...he actually took me out to show off to his friends?"
She was getting impatient with me. So I dropped it... but truthfully...that is all I remember about that night.
I was w-o-w-e-d ...by the fact that my father thought I was pretty.... ????
I know I am sounding very vain right now and that is not it at all.
As a matter of fact... it is not about the pretty ... not like you may be thinking.
I would think that most parents think all of their children are beautiful.
You see.... my mother never told me much about him. He was basically a forbidden topic and any time I crossed over that line to ask questions...she got upset and very secretive and even cryptic. I know she was afraid of him I know she did not want me anywhere near him.
I eventually gave up... until I was 24 that is... but that is for another post sometime.
The reason I got so excited about this and couldn't get past his opinion of my looks... is that was the first time I ever heard what he thought of me. I don't remember anything he ever said to me. My mother never told me anything about him...never mind what he actually thought of me.
So when she told me he thought enough of me that he wanted her to dress me up so he could take me out to show off to his friends... well it is the first and only memory I have of him actually thinking I was someone worthy of his attention.
I am not articulating this well... but anyone who has grown up fatherless would most likely understand my excitement at this revelation.
My father actually had an opinion of me.
He thought I was pretty.
He was proud of me.
He was proud enough of me to want to show me off to friends.
My father, my daddy... must've loved me... back then anyway.
I saw him once when I was 5 and once when I was 6 and then I never saw him again.
I mostly forgot about him for many years.
I was 24 before I seriously tried to find out about him.
But you can see how closed mouthed my mother was because it took her 29 more years to give me that little jewel of information. It meant the world to me to hear it. It was as if she opened a treasure chest and gave me one sparkling, beautiful jewel out of it.
It doesn't change who I am. It doesn't make my life better. But it just felt so good to hear he thought of me that way. My father had an opinion about ME.
Maybe it makes him more real... thus validating the fact that I really did have a father. I know it intellectually... but in my heart of hearts...there has always been that void... that no other human being could ever fill... that place reserved only for a little girl's father... her Daddy.
It is probably why even to this day... I like to feel taken care of. You will win my heart if I feel that... that safe... I am cared about feeling. I am independent too... indeed I am... but there is just something wonderful about knowing you are valued as a person. I think that is important for all of us. I am just sharing a vulnerability from long ago.
I guess my hearing his opinion of me... allowed that sparkling, beautiful jewel, to light up a little tiny spot in his place in my heart... where he was supposed to reside. Except for the memory of the words my mother described about that moment in time ... his room has remained devoid of a father's love... an empty shell of what could've been... ~~~
FATHER'S (and mothers) ... you are so IMPORTANT to your children. For your sons and your daughters. Remember - you can never go back. Base your decisions on that...when you can. But it is NEVER to late to demonstrate your love for your child...to be there for them... no matter what. Be a good role model. Love, guide, protect and have FUN with them. ALWAYS keep your communication open with them... no matter what. Never punish your children ...but rather discipline them as in disciple, teach. You don't always have to agree... but you should love your children unconditionally for who they are. Teach them forgiveness by being forgiving...and ask them to forgive you when you make a mistake...because you will. Doing that will deepen their trust in you and give you more credibility if/when you have deeper challenges to overcome.
Well..that is the ideal as I understand things...and then there is real life...where things don't always work out...even with the best of intentions. As parents... all we can do is our best at the time... but we should never stop trying to improve where we can and certainly...never..ever.. abandon your child.
There are no perfect parents.
I know I am not.
There are things I wish I could've done better.
But I do know... my sons know I love them and they will have that knowledge in their hearts forever.
I know I did some things really well and I hope those things far outshine my negatives.