My dad… well. Sometimes we’ve had some major struggles in our relationship. It’s always a two-edged sword in parent/child stuff, isn’t it? He relentlessly brings up topics that I don’t really wanna discuss, and sometimes I get so pissed at just the way he is. But I also hafta be grateful in a way that he’s maybe the only family member who sees me as an adult, and the difficulty that can arise from some of his stuff has forced me, from time to time, to act like one; to take the reigns, diffuse rising tensions. To communicate even when it feels more difficult than skipping through tar.
Yesterday he came down and visited in honor of my advancing years, and we got talking about parenting, and what I perceive sometimes to be my power struggles to parent with a very close and sometimes invasive family nearby who are a very vocal part of her upbringing.
I didn’t want to put anyone down, and it might be all me, really. My ideas that shape the feeling where sometimes I seem to shrink when the powerful matriarchs are in the same room. It’s my perception that they take over, but I must be a participant in that dynamic. It’s a struggle, to my mind, to try and exercise control over details that I find difficult to care about, so it’s become a kind of ‘pick your battles’ situation. Mostly, I don’t want every moment of Sierra’s time scheduled, every routine observed constantly. She needs… spontaneity. She’s too structured. This is a kid who grows upset if she isn’t given the opportunity to do her homework at the same time each night.
Her room is always, eerily clean.
I don’t know where she came from sometimes, we’re so opposite, but I do know she needs me to joke and goof her out of her little type A personality modes. I do know I need to make it clear that I’m not going to take shit from my family, because Sierra related to them that I swept her out of bed at 2a.m. so we could go see the storm-sea roaring on a school night. I do see there’s probably a reason that a structured, cautious, conscientious child was passed into the care of a walking ball of chaos.
She gives my life structure and anchorage. I introduce her to the world outside the box, the moments to live for.
And while I’m trying hard to find the words to say this to my dad, and trying not to put down other people in my family that I love, he says it, he says it perfectly:
“We all need the antidote to who we are.”
Chalk another tally up to fatherly wisdom.