Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Strangers in a Strange Land

Dearest Daughter,

Adolescence is making thingsa bit rocky at the moment. (You've been grounded till the end of the month for example). And at some point recently I desperately felt like I needed to reach out to you about this strange land we are wandering through. And because I'm not adept at human speech, I wrote it down.

At the moment, you still have it (in fact you made a point to show me that you still had it, which pleased me more than I let on. We are both masters at telling each other things that matter while pretending that they don't). But by the time you read this I am sure it will be long gone. So I'll copy and paste it here.

I love you,

Daddy


Dearest Daughter,

You have said that there’s no point in saying I’m sorry when I lose my temper because I’m just going to lose it again one day. And that’s true. That is unfortunately true.

But please never ever think I don’t love you. I love you so SO much. That has never changed – not in our darkest moments. And it isn’t ever going to. No matter how pissy I get, you know that I have always been there for you. And while it may be true that I lose my tempers sometimes when you don’t deserve it, you also know that even when you DO deserve it, I am always going to forgive you. Shoot, I keep doing stuff for you even WHILE I’m angry with you.

But here’s the thing: I’m scared. Just pants-wetting scared. And lost. Most all the time. I have NO idea what I’m doing. It is my job (the most important job I have) to keep you safe….. but at the same time give you the freedom to let you grow. AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO BOTH OF THOSE AT THE SAME TIME!!!

First part is easy – just lock you up and never let you out. Second part is easy – just toss you out the door and let you do whatever. But BOTH of them TOGETHER???

So I do make mistakes. I wake up almost every morning think “Ohhh. I should have done that SO differently. I could have done that so much better than I did.”

And I know that you are JUST as scared and lost in all this as I am. Because here’s the deal – we’re BOTH doing something we’ve never done before. I have NO IDEA how to be the parent of a teenager. And you have NO IDEA how to BE a teenager. We are both clueless and we are both nervous and neither of us really knows what’s going on and we are just bumbling through it all the best we can, making a ton of mistakes but trying so very hard to get it right.

But please never ever think, for all of my fumbling and fussing, that I don’t love you fiercely. Because I do, so very much.  (And the proof is the fumbling and fussing. I don’t get upset about things I don’t care about.)

I love you kid. Always have. Always will.

And it’s okay, because we are both going to get through this.

(also – I leave you alone in your room and hang in mine trying not to bother you because I know that privacy at your age is very important.

But that is the only reason. I don’t want you to mistake it for me not being interested in you or not caring about you. (There’s a reason I asked for your time as my birthday present). I was here for you before you hid away. And I will be here for you when you eventually come back.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017

Change

Dearest Daughter,

I miss you.

I can say that now, here. Because you won’t read this until years from now, when it no longer matters. I do not want you to feel guilty as I did, constantly listening to my mother and grandmother mourning how I used to be, as though my growing up had been a personal affront. And I do not now nor ever want you to slow up or feel shamed or apologetic for growing into a strong and healthy young woman. So I keep my mouth shut in the here and now

But God I miss you.

I miss the time we spent together. I miss every game we played. I miss every minute of the times you allowed me into the bright world of your childhood. I was grateful, for I knew it was a “limited-time offer” which would end. I just never counted on how fast it would go or much I would miss it - and the you you were then.

At the same time, I used to think that there were only two of you – child, and adolescent. And I’m starting to gain enough distance to recognize that that is not so. You were not one single person throughout childhood, but many.  One day, it was all about stuffed animals and setting up classrooms with them. Then it was all about Barbies and their relationships. Then it was all about making up dances. Then it was all about card games. Then it was all about…

And I can see now that each of those were not just changes of interest, but changes of you – demarcations of the fundamental shifts in your being. So where we are now is not something new after all… just the same dance we’ve always done, even if the music has changed.

Which is comforting.

So I miss deeply the closeness we once had, and the time I once was allowed to share with you. But I loved all your other selves – and survived their transitions. So there is no reason to think I won’t love all your future selves and all the future transitions just as well.

So go be who you need to be today. And change it all tomorrow if need be. Grow! And NEVER feel you have to apologize for it.


You old man loves you, no matter who you are.