Today being Father’s Day, I thought I’d do the blogger thing and write a post for my dad. One where I can be all, “Love you Dad” and pat myself on the back for being a good daughter.
Because it’s all about me, right?
But my relationship with my parents has been off for almost 10 years now and no chipper blog post is going to shoot us forward into sitcom-land.
Even now, I struggle to write this and no one even reads my blog.
A shining example of this void is the lack of photos I have of my dad and I. I’m sure there are a few tucked away in files or on discs, but this is the only recent one I’ve found.
One photo, from a small excursion to Santa Barbara, back in 2009.
The chasm is apparent in all of my struggles to make decisions about the wedding. The difference between my fiance disagreeing with me about something and my parents disagreeing is that the latter would send me into hysterics. As if each decision I made would embarrass them or show how stupid I really am or just be plain rude. I understand now this is caused by shame issues – baggage that I continue to unpack with my therapist – and that our relationship has stalled due to my own reclusion, my drawing away to protect myself.
Most recently I asked my dad to pick a song for our father / daughter dance at the wedding. I expected him to send me a carefully thought-out list, possibly in numerical order of most to least favorite, with links and explanations for why he chose each. Or, I expected one song, thoughtfully picked and yet thouroughly unknown by anyone but my dad, a family friends’ song or something.
What I received instead was a Facebook msg that said “How about ‘My Wish’ by Rascal Flats for us? love, dad”
Ugh. Really? After all the years of a shared love of music, country music especially, that’s the song he wants? The high vocals, the cheesier sentiment, the power ballad radio air-play.
In my lack of consideration for his feelings, I called and explained that I don’t love that song or group, that H’s step-mom’s asked for it for them to dance to, and can’t we find something else? Surely, I thought, the man who knows music will have a plethora of suggestions up his sleeve. And wasn’t I being such an adult here directly communicating what I wanted and let’s work together for a compromise…?
But, it turns out, he had none. He was tired of making decisions, of discussing things, of trying to put effort into the wedding to only have me veto his decisions. Over and over again.
As our phone conversation went south, I could feel the misunderstanding there, but I didn’t know how to explain it to him. I did not realize till just that moment how emotional and sensitive my dad can be. How he really does put all of himself into things. And being that I’ve inherited these traits to an extreme makes direct, loving communication between us challenging.
Over the past year, I’ve learned so much in the realization that my parents are actual people with complicated internal lives that I am only partially privy to. I’ve also learned that the girl who had no princess dreams of her wedding, definitely has an intuitive check-list of how she envisions the day, and anything outside of that vision is incomprehensible.
I’m trying to relax and take it all a little less seriously. Nobody’s perfect. I mean, so long as everyone shows up healthy and the venue is still standing, and there’s a groom to get married to, I think we’re in good shape, right?
Being 20 days away from the wedding, I am most grateful for the chance to celebrate with my parents the life and relationship H and I have built. To acknowledge their support, love and influence on me as a person, and to use this as a milestone in recalibrating our relationship for the better.
Happy Father’s Day. xo.