Guest Post – It’s hard to hear the truth.

Phone Talkin

I don't usually write guest posts on this blog. Well, never, in fact. But a fellow blogger has written this post and asked me to publish it here for reasons that will become clear.

Thanks to them for taking the time to write this and share it with us, and sorry for taking so long to publish your work!

It's Hard To Hear The Unwanted Truth

A day or so after Sally wrote a post about how you know you need a blogging intervention I had the conversation below with my dad. I had it mostly written and after reading another of Sally's later posts about being emotionally autistic, I don't know what clicked but it made me finish the post. Maybe because I am a lot more open about my emotions on my blog than Sally. I am not sure.

What I did know is that I could not post this on my blog. My father reads my blog and even though I am sure he knows some of my feelings about what I have written, he is sensitive enough that it would hurt him deeply. Enough that he would never get past it. I have enough respect and I owe it to him to not hurt or embarrass him intentionally.  So I approached Sally about having her post it on her blog and she graciously agreed. I have no problem with anyone reading here knowing who I am, but I did not want an easy trail if someone were doing a search for my name or blog.   Thanks Sally and thank you all for reading.    

A phone call from 6,000 miles away. Some small talk.  Impatience on my part. The computer and my blog post await. And even if they didn't, I still wouldn't have much to say to the long distance caller.  Gentle, slightly sad, yet preachy words directed at me through the phone line.  Advice from an unsought and unwanted source.  "You really should be spending less time on the computer." "You should be paying more attention to your kids."

A mouth, mine, dropping open in disbelief.  A feeling of indignance. How
dare he?  "You are not here. You don't see the whole picture." Is my tempered response. "Those are not my observations." "Your kids gave me that information unsolicited." "They say their mother is spending too much time on the computer."

All my dormant feelings slowly rise to the surface like the lava flowing from a volcano. "You need to have a relationship with someone in order to advise them on how they should live their lives." Were the words that flowed calmly and matter of factly out of my mouth. Was my response a retaliation or an unemotional observation? Expectations from him have been nonexistent for years. How can someone be so clueless and not make an effort to at least have a steady decent relationship with his grandchildren?

"I do speak to the kids." I bite my tongue whilst the voice in my head tempts me to ask how a cruise is more important than visiting the grandkids he and his wife haven't seen in over a year. Or coming to visit your elderly mother whom you have also not seen for that amount of time. A few quick conversations is no substitute for a visit.

It is not the kids that are the losers in this story. It is the grandparents who are clueless as to how little effect their non presence has on their grandchildren. All 9 of them. To have a relationship you need more than a connection that is just flesh and blood. Giving birth and raising a child cannot possibly grant you the license to forever have a say, even if you don't work on the relationship. Can it? Is that the reason I feel put out that he even had the nerve to initiate this conversation? Is it okay that I only tolerate his presence in my life? Why am I so unkind and so impatient? Why don't I care that much?

It is sad. We share so much history. He wasn't a bad father at all. He showed love in the way an only child knew how. But this was an only child whose mother grew up in an orphanage and who had survived the holocaust. He wasn't the priority. Her depression and egocentricism were. He grew up a bit clueless on the emotional front. A paradox. Emotional but stoic. Conversive but tight lipped. "Learn from my mistakes. Please." He implores. "Spend more time with your kids." Why don't you internalize your own message? Is what I am thinking. You have kids and grandkids you make no effort to see. Or at the least you make excuses why you can't. I am not bothered or upset by his comments.

I don't feel a rush of anger. Yet his comments continue to niggle at the back of my brain. Is it because I know he is right and I have been neglecting my kids in order to blog? His comments were unrightfully given. Unrightfully in that he had no right to preach them to me. He only has a relationship with me because I am his daughter and he is my father. Because I am taking care of his mother who lives near me, 6000 miles away from him. But yet will his comments yield the result he was looking for? Will it make me think about my priorities? When do people not have a right to make deeply hurtful comments about how you are conducting your life? And to make them unsolicited as well.

Does a parent automatically earn that right by having created you?

Image: PHONE TALKING © Martin Cathrae | Flickr Creative Commons


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 12th July 2010 / 6:09 pm

    My mother has made the same comments to me and we are as close as mother and daughter can get. I know she is doing it out of concern for my kids, but it still stings. I know I spend a lot of time on the computer, but when I was growing up she spent a lot of time on the phone, watching tv, and reading. Really, I think generationally and technology wise, we as mothers have just found new ways to occupy our time. It isn’t that we are spending less time with our kids, but we have found a new way to spend our time that we would otherwise be doing other unproductive things. If that makes sense…

  2. Nicki Cawood
    12th July 2010 / 6:31 pm

    I’ve rewritten my comment several times now!
    It’s rare to read such an emotionally open post that really touches the reader. Although I personally am very lucky and haven’t had any of the same worries, upsets or niggles, your very well written and thought-out post just made me want to comment. Clearly you are very much in tune with what it means to be a parent and a good one at that, and regardless of what time you do/don’t spend on the pc or doing anything else for that matter, your children are very lucky to have you.

  3. 13th July 2010 / 9:45 am

    A wonderful blog Susie, that resonates on many levels. By your father’s own admission, he did not spend enough time with his kids. Yet, he still raised a well-balanced daughter, right? No, he doesn’t have a right to say such hurtful things in such an obvious way. And, he should get his facts right. I think if he does the research, he’ll discover that mothers of our generation (on average) spend far more quality time with their children than our mothers and grandmothers did. Blog ’til your heart’s content girl 🙂

  4. 13th July 2010 / 2:35 pm

    I am so THERE. Actually, my father is far worse – he’s been using me for years. Finally, when I told him I had got a publishing contract and his only response was ‘Oh, right. Anything else?’ I flipped. I banished him from my life and feel far better for it.
    That said, my father is an unpleasant drunk and not a good role model for his grandchildren even if he WAS around. I’m happier without him and if I’m happier, my kids, ultimately are.

  5. Susie
    13th July 2010 / 3:24 pm

    Thanks guys for your comments.
    I have found a bit more peace since I wrote this a while back.
    Like I wrote in this post he wasn’t a bad dad. Now I know he was doing the best he could. As only child to a mother who suffered from depression, he showed love the best way he could I guess.
    Some people find change hard. I know it’s hard for him to see me and my sisters living a life different than the way we were raised.
    My anger stemmed I guess from some guilt that I was doing some neglecting. I am still trying to find the right balance.
    thanks again. (specially you sally)

  6. 14th July 2010 / 3:45 pm

    Ach. I’ve a lot of sympathy.
    I grew up feeling oddly emotionally neglected. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem at all but over the years I’ve just not felt supported by them. It was intangible, inexplicable except by odd circumstances that people would say “well, my parents can be a bit like that too…”
    Then my dad left the country for good and stopped contacting me and my mum told me they’d decided to separate 5 minutes before I left for my baby son’s funeral. And in that moment, I knew I had been right all along. Something had been wrong. To do that, to add more pain to that day without actually realising it would, I have to have been so far from the centre of their world for my whole life as to barely qualify for a parent-daughter relationship.
    I’m sad. Slightly liberated. But sad 🙁
    And sad for you too.