pretty good words

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.

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20 thoughts on “pretty good words

  1. I think I see your father in you. His words and thoughts are beautiful and wise. I feel my husband is an antidote to me, but never knew how to say it. Don’t worry about Sierra and you and your differences. My husband and I have balanced each other for over fifty years. I am terrified of being lost; he revels in not knowing where we are so we can explore something new. Contrast can be a beautiful thing.

  2. Would you mind checking with him, and see if he has that phrase copyrighted? As the father of five (with 9 grandkids), I could use some of that wisdom…

  3. Brilliant, if I look at my life I am surrounded by this idea……my kids are the antidote to each other (night and day), my other half and I, my own family to me……ironically my eldest son is some weird parthonogenetic (? sp) reproduction of me and though I love him beyond words, we are both sensitive, fiery, fucked-up types and that can make for a very difficult relationship…….he’s like a mirror following me round, sometimes this is wonderful, sometimes it is troubling.
    My mother and I are very close but she’s got a BIG personality and when it comes to sticking in her oar, she does not hold back. I don’t smack my kids, she thinks all children, especially boys, should get a clip round the ear as she so charmingly puts it, when they mess around, and we have countless other disagreements about upbringing. Fortunately if I tell her to butt out, she carries on chunnering but lowers the volume. OMG, I’ve written an essay in your comment box……can we say you touched a nerve.. Great post and I hope yesterday kicked ass. J

  4. A kid who keeps her room clean and does her homework is, well, priceless. So are you for doing the storm watch in the middle of the night. We should all do that once in a while.

  5. Wonderful statement. I wish, often, my father was still around. His only fatherly advice to me was something about a part of the male anatomy having no conscience.

  6. pmousse- that’s kinda how I felt.

    Robin- ty. you always say something that makes me smile

    Slothboy- I know! and for him, that’s not so normal.

    gingaTao- ty. weird how imperfect can be so perfect sometimes.

    tpg- isn’t it? I guess identical twins will often form complementary personalities when they’re raised togther, but often form the same characteristics when raised apart.

    TIV- he has his moments. and his anti-moments.

  7. anhinga- you take that back! just kidding. Wow, that’s impressive, 50 years! You don’t seem anywhere near old enough to be married that long. That’s a really big deal these days, to get to the 50th anniversary.

    ybonesy- hiya… like jo said, sometimes we worry most about the kids who are like us. I feel like what I worry most about is usually not an issue, and it’s something from left-field that I should have had my eye out for.

    Bob- Mi wisdom et su wisdom. You’re covered.

    david- absolutely… sometimes.

    aos- Oh, good way to look at it. It’s kinda nice to go through life, realizing you’re other people’s pick-me-up, just naturally.

    jo- you never need apologize, I thought that was really interesting (and I do the same thing, comparing my experiences in comments. Some topics really make me people see their commonalities, it’s pretty cool) I’m pretty amazed you used ‘parthonogenetic’ too. I only knew what that meant because I had to do research on aphids for an article a couple months ago, but it’s a handy descriptor. You likely worry about him, but when I read that your older son has your nature, I was thinking he was a lucky one. He’ll always see more to the world than the surface.

    mad- ty! and yeah, it seems like a weird thing to worry about, huh? Sometimes she’s a little monk.

    Stevo- See, that would be really helpful for girls to know, growing up.

  8. I know my mum often wondered where she’d gotten that kid from (aka me) and there were a lot of power struggles between me and my parents because I got the impression early on they didn’t know what they were doing. Sounds like your daughter is getting just the right balance in her upbringing. Just remember, some parents pray their kids were neater and more organized – you’re blessed!

    And hey! Better late than never so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :-D

  9. I love the antidote idea. Not really an idea, actually a truth. Balance is key. Too much of anything is too much – even the good stuff can get overwhelming if taken too far. So go for spontaneity, take it, someone else is sure to shove structure at you. And sometimes… well, I guess a little structure is good. I DO like to know what time that sun is coming up the next day.

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