My mother has told me several times that I will always be her baby. But I am 50 years old and have decided that I am no longer daddy’s little girl.
My relationship with my father has always been complicated. In his younger years, he was a hot head and it didn’t take much for him to escalate and become violent.
I was a great kid but not the greatest student. Looking back on those years I think the constant drama at home allowed school to become a refuge and a place where I could zone-out.
When I was in my early 20s and had moved back home from university, I felt as though the fighting between my parents and the overall ability to live with my father had hit an all-time low.
One particular night, during one of his rages, I remember yelling, “One of you has to go and it isn’t going to be me!” I directed my gaze squarely at him because there was no way that I would allow my mother to think that she’d be the one to go.
Within a few days, large furniture started to disappear like the living room 5 foot long marble-topped coffee table. My mom and I came home from work and while looking at each other said, “Well, I guess he’s going.”
My father made the choice to move almost 2 hours away from our families, but we made efforts to have family lunches, dinners and celebrate special occasions together. I believed it was important to continue a relationship and allow my children the opportunity to know who he is and give him a chance to get to know them too.
Conversations with him revolved around hours of listening to his glowing stories about friends in the neighbourhood, his projects, and his points of view on everything. Very seldom were any questions directed to either my brother, myself or even our young children on what we were doing and where he actually wanted to hear about it.
Of course he wouldn’t pick-up on our disappointment in not being a part of a dialogue, and the exhaustion in listening to him for hours. So the closeness that could have been, if everyone was an active participant, was non-existent.
But as time has marched on for all of us, my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness in his late 40s and everything changed for me. In particular, time and the way that I valued it.
I still wanted to make visits to see my father but with the distance and the fact that I’d be devoting a full day between travel and time spent together it became increasingly more difficult to get away.
He would call many times to ask, “When are we getting together? I haven’t seen you?” Or, “Well hello there (in a sarcastic tone), I was wondering where you’ve been.”
Enough was enough at that point. I could feel my blood-pressure rising and I launched into a short tirade. “Dad, I think you know how to use a phone just as well as I do. Please do not guilt me into calling you. I have enough on my plate!”
And with that, the cord was cut. I finally woke up and decided that it was time to let go. Adulting really needed to kick-in for me.
I was in a place where I was okay with knowing that he would never be REALLY invested in us and so I no longer needed to feel guilty it. I haven’t spoken with him in a month and may never again.
In the movie, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, Sydney Poitier’s father guilts his son into what he feels his son owes him in life. Poitier’s character John sternly says back to his dad, “I don’t owe you nothing because you brought me into this world.”
My outlook is clear, I am really able to focus on home and the emotional weight has disappeared. I saw things for what they are and I’m okay with the outcome.