Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Will Work for Therapy
Yesterday was full of blessings. My Toastmaster group treated me to a rather unorthodox baby shower that was a modified TM meeting. We had a Table Topics meeting where everyone got to tell a birth story, or their favorite nursery rhyme, or a piece of parenting advice. It was very sweet and really fun. I was presented with a generous gift certificate to the store of my choosing. It was more than enough to get the crib I had pre-selected. I'll think I'll use the extra to get a porta-crib to keep at the office. My son called me mid-day (the 28 year old) to ask me to pick him up from work because he had a migraine. I just happened to be a few blocks a way when he called, so I picked him up and took him home. After dropping him off I had an urge to visit my parents, who live just down the street from my son. I've been feeling really weird about them lately, but my dad had a burst appendix last week and had to have emergency surgery. I left for LA without seeing him and hadn't visited since my return. I'm really glad I stopped by. My mother was out, but Dad was shuffling around in his pjs and robe and my grandmother was there as well (she's lives with them and is mostly bed ridden). My visit with my dad was very healing. We had a really good and honest talk, something we rarely do. He acknowledged that he had not been a good father (he was neglectful and laxidazical) and I accepted that. He also said he was very proud of me and the person I've become. (That was nice to hear since I'm not feeling so accomplished or responsible these days with two overdrawn bank accounts, a bounced check and bills piling up to my pregnant belly). I have forgiven my parents. I know we were poor, but I also know they partied a lot. I know I didn't have a bike, or ballet lessons, or dental visits. I think I could have had at least some of those things if they didn't party, drink, and drug away part of their limited financial resources. Its hard to stay mad at them especially since neither of them are those people anymore. Now my mother is in church 3-4 days a week. (Where was this person when I was growing up?) Now, my dad is a devoted family man, it seemed when I was growing up, he couldn't find enough reasons to be out the door and away from us. (My parents cared for my dad's mother for years until she passed away then immediately took in my mother's mother.) If I complain about my parents, my friends look at me like I'm nuts because they are such fine upstanding citizens, NOW. Well these people are not the people who raised me. When I was growing up my mother was a depressed drug addict, my dad the worst kind of womanizer. Oh well, it is what it is. I do look forward to talking more to my counselor about all this and hashing it out with her, (even though I can't really afford the visits- I feel like one of those panhandlers I see standing on street corners holding up cardboard signs- "will work for food- and or therapy") I want to be mad at them, but mostly I'm just sad about it all. I felt good about my visit with Dad though. I wanted to tell him, how disappointed I was in him as a father, but when he admitted it first, I didn't have the heart to bash him with my feelings. Especially with him sitting their recovering from a near fatal experience, gaunt from weight loss, and looking older and frailer than ever. We talked and hugged. I did feel redeemed, somewhat. I went in to visit with my grandmother and rubbed her feet as she told me stories of her own grandmother. I prompt her for family stories everytime I'm in her presence. My dad gave me the best compliment he's ever given me when he told me that I have my grandmother and mother's spirit. A light went on in my head. I do have their spirit- I am strong and courageous and stubborn as they are. It is why I will not only survive, but thrive. As I drove away, I thought, just because I didn't have a real father/daughter relationship with my dad when I was a kid, doesn't mean I can't have one now. I can invite him to things, involve him, and do things with him now. I'm so used to his being an outsider in our lives, this thought only just now occurs to me. I never invite him to anything, assuming he won't come. I invite my mother, and if she gets him to come along, fine. I'm shocked at how accustomed I've become to not having any expectations of him. But I love the thought- that at 44 years of age, I can begin to work on filling that father-daughter void.