Monday, September 28, 2009

Daddy Issues

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.

6 comments:

XUP said...

I think parents understand - because we were all kids once, too and took our own parents for granted, as you say. The love a parent has for a child is frightening in intensity. It's totally unconditional, it will do anything for the child - anything. It always considers what will make the child happy, what is best for the child. It asks for nothing in return. It freaks me out all the time, but there you go. And no, the love a child has for a parent isn't anything like that because a child grows up and finds a partner and maybe has kids of their own and has to outlive the parent. That would be impossible to do if their love had the same intensity that the parents' does. You're very good to your man.

kate said...

Ditto what XUP said - unconditional love, asking nothing in return. It is a gift we give our children so that they to may give it their children.

And if we are all blessed to live so long, parents, and in some cases children too, we`ll be around to tell each other how blessed we are to have had such unconditional love.

However if it makes you feel better, I once read that it is a primal thing, in our DNA if you will, that unconditional love thing, that without it there might be a whole lot less children that actually make it to adulthood!!

Nat said...

Exactly what Kate and XUP said (and I think it doubles when you have grandkids.) I am still overwhelmed by what I feel for The Boy, nothing I wouldn't do... (I feel the need to break into song.) And he always comes first.

It's an odd thing, but you just sort of go with it. And I think it's a good thing, he sounds like a good father and a good man. One day his girls will realize it.

raino said...

great post. love this and what good lesson.

Susan said...

XUP, Kate, Nat: This makes me feel deeply flawed (and a little scared) that I don't understand this unconditional love thing. Is this one of those things that I'd only understand if I *was* a parent?

Raino: I knew you'd identify with the issues here.

XUP said...

You're not flawed and it really is something you only understand when you have a kid of your own. I could never have conceived of such a thing before I had a kid and actually experienced it. Sure, I love and worry about and care for my nephews and my siblings and have loved other people in various ways and to various degrees; but none of it comes close to what you feel for your own kid. And it's scary from this end, too. But it's one of those species survival things, I think. Like how certain horomones are released shortly after giving birth to make you forget the pain and agony. Without them, they say no woman would ever go through childbirth a second time. Eerie, eh?