The Cats in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon

I feel so conflicted. My dad went to visit my sister and now his plan is to come visit me. I’m mad that he didn’t make an effort when I needed him to and that keeps me from even accepting his efforts now. His wife always made an effort and I’m sorry if reading this offends her. I love talking to her and would love to see her. Him, not so much… and I hate feeling that way after wanting a relationship with him so badly for so long, but it’s how I feel.

Sometimes it sucks that I am so emotionally transparent. I am not capable of acting like I haven’t been standing around waiting on someone who has not been there for me to decide to come around. I’m not able to act like I’ve forgotten all those years of waiting to be a priority; years of feeling empty no matter how full my life is… Years of never talking unless I call. Years of leaving unreturned messages. Years of having a “relationship” that is only existent within the confines of his threshold of convenience. Years of just waiting and wanting.

I’m not that person who can smile and laugh and hide away all the hurt and resentment and all those feelings of inadequacy for the sake of making it through dinner. He finally wants to come visit me… finally reached out to me for a change. And instead of being excited, I’m angry. It’s still convenience. He’s still passing through on his way to another priority.

On one hand I feel like it’s at least something, but on the other hand I feel like the whole thing is a little too late. Every time I hear his voice, I feel like a child again. I can barely focus on his words because all I can think about is how much I just want to ask him why he couldn’t have been there for me. He thinks he did the best that he could. I wonder how many phone calls he made every day of his life and why just one of them throughout the week couldn’t have been to me. The best you can do means you’ve put forth some effort. Dedicated some time and energy. But I only cross his mind when it’s convenient… or at least that’s how it’s always seemed.

The one thing I can say is that the man is consistent. In 31 years, nothing about our lack of a relationship has ever changed. I don’t know how to feel any differently. A part of me has been miserable my whole life because of the void he was supposed to fill. How do I ignore that through idle chit chat and I love yous? It’s hard enough to do it a few times per decade over the phone…

If you’re a parent, be there for your kid. Not just in the way you know how, but in the way they need you. Don’t just do what you can. Do your best. Don’t just send money. Be involved. After a while, the damage is done and there may not be any going back. I’m a grown woman and I realize that there’s no way to go back and change the past, but the pain is still deep and it’s still there — and it’s making it damn near impossible for me to even want to care at this point. I mean, how is this time supposed to be any different than the time before? How am I supposed to be optimistic and think this could be the start of a great relationship? I went into dinner in 2006 thinking that same thing and nothing changed.

The only time he called me was to wish me happy birthday (and he mistakenly thought my birthday was the day BEFORE my actual birthday…) in 2007 and then two days after Christmas that year when he called to defend himself after I sent him a letter that was prompted by emotions after seeing him walk my sister down the aisle telling him everything that had been left unsaid. Not even an acknowledgement of my feelings. But he did mention how much he spent on my sister’s wedding… which was especially painful. Since then, the only time we’ve talked has been when I’ve called him, as usual.

At what point to I decide I’ve had enough disappointment for one lifetime from the same person? I don’t know if he even has any regrets or if he ever really thought about me. It’s a slap in the face when he acts like he just tried SO hard to be in my life, but my mom stopped him. I’ve been on my own for over 14 years. Even if she kept him away for the first 16 years, what happened to the second half of my life?

EDIT TO ADD: A friend left a comment saying that she had to learn how to love her Dad the way he is and stop being angry because he was not the way she needed him to be. I think that makes sense and I’m sure I will have to make strides if we ever have a normal relationship, but I don’t know if I can ever do that without him at least acknowledging my feelings, which hasn’t happened up to this point. Honestly, I don’t know what I want from him. I’m sure it’s frustrating for him when I don’t make it easy, but I don’t know how to make things right and honestly I don’t feel like it’s on me to make that happen.

Being uninvolved becomes a habit for both sides eventually…

Comments

  1. says

    Oh no. I’m so sorry, Kat. We are called to love, even when our heart is tired of being broken, but I completely understand why you are tired of trying. I felt like you do for a long time. Finally, I had to change my heart and stop expecting my dad to be what I wanted/needed him to be and just love him as he was. When I did that and started telling him what a good dad he is and that I love him, something
    Changed in him. He started trying again. Really
    Trying to be the dad he hadn’t been.
    I’m praying for you, friend. Xoxo

    • says

      It’s really hard … I appreciate your comment, Kadi. I think it might be different if he would ever just acknowledge that he wasn’t there. That he didn’t try. That he wasn’t involved. He seems to think he was and it’s hurtful. If he would ever just express that he had ANY regrets about how he was (or rather, wasn’t) as a father to me, it might be easier for me to move forward and let it go, but not having that is hard. It’s like, I’ve suffered for all of this time and I’m supposed to just let him go on and think that he’s been great? I know life isn’t fair, but that just seems wrong.

  2. says

    I think the term ‘there is no true textbook on how to be a parent’ is more than just a passing phrase. Honestly, some are gifted, some work hard at it, some are guessing all the way, some are failures, some never try, some learn as they go, others had great examples to live by, still others had horrible examples who may have made them do everything in their power to be the parent they never had. there are so many who fall somewhere in between. Maybe this is your time with your dad? Not so much to make amends for all that is lacking in your past, but for beginning the kind of relationship you’ve desired, deserved. Maybe not. I say go into your visit with an open mind and heart and know that no matter what, you are blessed with a loving husband, children, family, and friends.

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