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