What Might Have Been
Just when I have myself convinced I really don't mind not having a relationship with my Father of origin something like this weekend happens. Just when I have everyone I know convinced I really don't mind not having a relationship with my Father of origin I go and blog about it.
First of all I have to back up...my Mom is moving to Oregon from Montana. I can't believe I haven't blogged about that yet. Most of you follow me on Facebook so you already know that but yes, wow, my Mama and I are finally going to be back together. "Reunited and feels so good."
With that said, she's going to be living with us for an indefinite amount of time. We have a big bonus room, 300 square feet big. Just a marvelous, square room that we've used as storage and computer room (before children) and a romper/play room (after children). Up until a week ago the bonus room consisted of one couch, one chair, one play kitchen, one play workbench, 2 activity desks, 1 mini table, a tv on a stand, a bookshelf, a toy box, a dress up box and a toy cubby shelf. Then Mia swept in like an organizing angel and helped me empty it so that our friend Ryan could build a closet in there and finish up some trim work.
The room has been relatively finished for about 3 years but the window, door and floor needed trim work done. Easy enough to do but as you know already, Hot Jeff doesn't dig wood/house/DIY yourself projects. Hence, we just used the room in a slightly unfinished state. The other thing you should know about the bonus room is that when we moved into the house in January of 2004 it was down to the studs. It has taken us forever to finish that room and we have done it in stages as time and money and energy has allowed.
I swear this is getting to my Father.
When a person has the skills and tools to dry wall and frame and finish a room it really is no big deal. Materials are relatively inexpensive--its the labor that is costly. We're fortunate to have a talented crop of friends who have pitched in their time, talent and tools and the room is done, beautiful and going to be a great space for my Mom to "get away" from the craziness that is our home.
Here's where it all comes together.
My Father is a very, very talented carpenter. He has made beautiful things. He once promised to make Samuel a toy box with burned artwork on it (because he is also an incredible artist.) but alas, surprise, surprise, he never delivered on that promise.
During the different stages of working on the bonus room (just shy of a decade) I've often thought how in a normal, functioning father-daughter relationship a dad would love to come over and help his daughter with a room. I have this idyllic picture of my Dad up there working with Jeff while I feed them good food and lemonade. I picture him teaching Samuel how to use a drill and laughing at Emily's head lamp.
Instead of having us be bound to someone else's generosity my Dad would jump at the chance to hang out with all of us.
That's not how it is. I haven't spoken to my Father in over 2 years. After giving him "one more chance" he lied to me for the last time and for my mental health, sanity and sake of my children I asked him to never contact me again. He has obliged. Not a surprise that he didn't fight for the right to stay in our lives but that's a whole other blog post.
I think when it comes to John, my father, he doesn't know how to love. Or maybe he loves the best he knows how. My cousin Kristi told me that's how she thought of her own Dad and their relationship. My Uncle had the same upbringing as my Mama; an alcoholic father who left them and then was killed in a car accident. He never had much of a chance to learn the gentle nuances of fatherhood because he himself had a father who didn't know how to love or only could love the best way he knew how. I suppose there are countless books and blog posts dedicated to the sins of the fathers and cyclical familial dysfunction so I won't delve into it now but to say that something happened with John that made him incapable of loving his daughter the way she needed to be loved.
I simply will go back to the rhetorical question of what kind of Daddy doesn't help his daughter finish her bonus room? Its such a silly thing but it represents so much more doesn't it? I guess the answer that I know in my head but it hasn't (and maybe never will) made it to my head yet is the kind of Daddy who doesn't know how.
I have found a lot of freedom in that answer. When I'm feeling guility for finally putting a stop to the cycle of lies, broken promises and 2nd chances and feeling like I should continue to give "one more chance" I remember that no many how chances I give John he doesn't know how to love me. John doesn't know how to be a father let alone a Daddy. So I take a deep breath, put down my phone and remember that I DO NOT have to put my children in that same never-ending cycle. Samuel and Emily will have enough disappointment in their lives; if I can protect them, I should. If I should protect myself, I should. At some point I had to relinquish the lie that John is my responsibility. He's not.
I'll probably always play "what might have been" games in my head and heart until the day I meet Jesus face to face and He holds me on His lap and cradles me in His arms and tells me "Daddy's here. Daddy's here."