Saturday, May 26, 2007

Law of the Father - Part II

Well, the visit from my father went as well as it could. He's reached the point in his life where he realizes that anything he can do to have some kind of relationship with me and my family is worth doing. Other than dealing with his usual lack of awareness of anyone else's normal schedule, obligations, etc., I didn't have to go too far out of my way to accommodate him. He didn't seem to realize that I had to take off work (my dept. funded "office-y" work) with virtually no advanced notice to stay home and hang out with him, and I'm sure it doesn't register with him what it meant for me to have to take the next day off of dissertation work to do the same. The baby was sick the whole time, as well, which made things a bit more exhausting, but my husband was great about being the one to get up with her most nights.

My dad stayed Thursday morning through Friday evening, and I could tell that he was just happy to be there. Hurricane H LOVES to have visitors, so she was especially happy about having an extra Papaw to spoil her. He took her to school (accompanied by my husband) on Friday morning, had lunch with her (accompanied by me), and then took her to Wal-Mart to pick out a new back-pack and a few goodies. Watching her with him, I realized that she's the exact age I was when I thought he hung the moon. He made her laugh by acting silly, and she loved hearing his stories about me as a little girl. Even the baby was willing to be held by him for a few brief minutes. Hell, even my husband - who is an urban, granola guy from Philly - got along just fine with him.

I remained guarded. I consciously put on my I'm the Boss of My World hat, and never hesitated to let him know this when he suggested that he grill steaks for dinner rather than me cooking. He kept making offers to meet us for a campout at this town, or arrange a fishing trip at that place, or to take us around the state where he works if we could make the trip. It was clear that he's desperate to just Be Involved in any way he can in our lives. But, like I told my husband...Baby Steps please. I'm not ready for this. I'm not ready for "family" vacations with the father who took me to my first bar at 12 years old and made me the designated driver while he and my WESM (Wicked Evil Step-Mother) got drunk.

I am glad that my daughter has now created some good memories with my father, and I hope she can make more in the future. How many more? I don't know. I want to protect her as much as possible, and I'm afraid that one day, she'll start asking questions. Questions about my relationship with him. About why he isn't around us very much. Or maybe she'll pick up the vibe between he and I (kids are so perceptive), and she'll just ask point blank: "Do you like Papaw D?" There's no way for her to understand the answer to that question, and there's no need for her to know our history right now. I'm just not sure how far into my life I want to allow this person. I don't think I'll ever trust him completely again. I'll never trust him the way a child should be able to trust a parent. In many ways, I don't at all consider him a parent. My step-dad was/is much more of a parent to me than my natural father was or can ever be.

I don't know what my father wants. For that matter, I'm not sure I want to know what he wants. I don't think I want to ask that question, because it implies caring what the answer is, and I don't think I care. Or maybe it's that I don't want to care? I'm not sure. I want to theorize it all. That is, I have this weird, but obvious, urge to put it all in terms of the Law of the Father because then it will make sense to me. I'm somewhat of a Theory-Head. Not in the everything-is-just-theory sense, but in the theory-can-be-a-useful-tool sense. I get theory; it makes sense to me as a way of thinking through systems of power, ideology, identity, and teleology. But I don't know if thinking this part of my life through the lens of theory is possible right now, much less helpful. Part of me is hoping he'll just go away like he always has, and this won't be an issue. Part of me is wondering if this is a spiritual opportunity in which I'm being tested, and there is a clear lesson to be learned. I'm trying to get a handle on what God would have me do. All of me realizes this is a clear, blaring, neon sign in a metaphorical fork in the road. But I can't read what the sign says just yet.

1 comment:

wwwmama said...

I think you're doing great just getting through it. I think I'd respond the same way, sort of analyzing it but also wanting to get some distance from it. Just go with your instincts, protect your family, and see where it goes. Congrats on making it through!