she has fallen and now she is awake
April 2, 2010Posted by on
One of the (many) things I wish for Bunbun is a good relationship with her father. I don’t want her to have to fear her father, or loathe him, or simply feel that distance so many women feel. I don’t want her good memories to be made up of the times they did his hobbies (or his chores) together*. I don’t want her to feel desperate for his approval or love.
In short, I don’t want her having the same relationship with her father that I have with mine.
In some ways this is completely unlikely – Wolfman has a reasonably high level of feminist understanding and certainly has feminist leanings so a lot of the fraught aspects of my paternal relationship aren’t going to exist in our household. He actually gives a fuck about parenting as a choice, not just something that you do when you aren’t doing other stuff. So even if reading the same book four times is boring, that’s what he’ll do and that pattern will go on because it isn’t just about what he does and what he feels – she is just as important as he is.
Yet, he still does the kind of half-arsed things Bluemilk talked about here** – I looked over the other day and he was holding a balloon on a string like it was a cat toy while he played his DS with the other hand. Apart from that I have had to say (more than once) that if I request he takes over fully for a while he has to take over fully. Not let her whinge at my feet. Not hand her over for a nappy change (even if it’s the fourth in an hour). Not start talking to me because now he’s bored. I still do the bulk of the emotional work and he knows this. Acknowledges it. But we find it hard to change. I don’t want Bunbun growing up and thinking she’s got to be the caring one and I don’t want her growing up to expect her partner to do it either. Which is the crux of a lot of issues.
What am I modelling here?
I want to show her how to have a great relationship with her father, except that I don’t know how. I still have to deal with my father’s inappropriate comments, his obnoxious behaviour and his absolute certainty that I don’t know shit. I model behaviour where I go to my Maman if my Da is an arsehole – I want her to not only know she can come to me and I will protect her and act, but also know that she can do the same herself. That he will listen. I don’t want her to feel like her voice doesn’t matter here in the heart of her world. Or that her father doesn’t really care, or prefers her to be silent, or wants her to be someone she’s not. I just don’t know how.
Visiting my family always puts me in this sort of a mood. I don’t want my Da yelling and carrying on because I dare to not be thankful he’s working himself to death – I want my Da around, I don’t want money when he’s gone. I understand though but he still feels the need to act as though I can’t possibly understand the trials of his labour. That I (and my mother) are just gallivanting around because we dare not to put him and his needs first. No matter what we do it isn’t as important. No matter what I say it isn’t as right. No matter what I do it’s not as good. His pontificating on family life irks me the most – he was so rarely there so how dare he impugn my decisions? He wasn’t breastfeeding, he wasn’t dealing with three kids for weeks on end by himself. He has no idea when I was given solids yet he feels perfectly at home lecturing me for not giving my daughter toast and vegemite at two months. Or three months. Don’t I know I was always eating soft boiled egg and toast at 8 months and that’s why I’ve got no allergies? Never mind the research. Never mind what I want. Never mind what I say. He knows better.
*I cannot describe how unspeakably sad it makes me when women talk glowingly about their fond memories of doing yardwork with dad. Or watching football with dad. Or fishing with dad. Or any number of his hobbies that he does with a child in tow. It isn’t that I expect Wolfman to not play games with Bunbun just because it’s his hobby, I just expect his bonding with her to be a little bit more than ‘tag along while I do everything I’d have done if you weren’t here’. She is precious and our daughter and I fucking expect a little bit more effort to go into interactions.
** And you know the shitty thing? It isn’t that I don’t do stuff like that myself. I just feel like a shitty parent when I do and hate myself for it and angst away while he shrugs and moves along.