I envy and hate my step-daughters.
Not for their age and potential. Not for all the money in this week's lotto jackpot would I subject myself to the vagaries of being a young hormone-ridden teen girl-child, and as far as potential, well, I don't think the life I carved for myself lacks in any aspect. I've done what I set out to do and I have no regrets about my trajectory.
Instead, I envy them the loving, doting father they possess; my husband. I envy them his presence in their lives, his active interest in all they do, and his obvious love and concern for them. I envy how he spoils them rotten with attention and material goods. I envy them the chance they have to express their love and thankfulness for all he does.
I hate them for their uncomprehending reception of his largess. They accept his love and attention and gifts and devotion to their well-being as if it simply is their due, and no thanks is required. They have no idea of the sacrifices and care he takes on their behalf, and if they knew they wouldn't care. It's simply his job, you see. I hate them because they won't realize what an amazing man their father is until they're much older, and maybe he won't be around for them to tell him how they appreciate him. I hate them for the words that may remain unsaid; that should never remain unsaid.
I hate them because they're me at that age, and I hate myself for not saying what I should have to my father before he died. I always thought there'd be more time... more time to get to know the man he was; more time to tell him what he meant to me. I hate them because they don't understand what a wonderful life he's given them. They've never known want, or pain, or hunger, yet they think their spoiled little self-obsessed lives are sooo hard. I hate that they let him slave on behind the scenes in complete self-abnegation, without recognition, aside from the occasional kiss on the cheek.
Somehow, for him, this is enough. Not being a parent, I don't understand how it can be, but he is content and is quite puzzled at my indignation on his behalf. I can only hope that my own father took his own kisses on the cheek as payment in full for all his efforts on my behalf.