I thought I'd moved on

I've been thinking about my father a lot lately (yeah, you know this is gonna be a fun post now, don'tcha?).  The specter of his illness, both physical and emotional versions, have been looming over my life like a dark cloud.  The truth is, I haven't shaken it like I thought I had.

My relationship with him was based solely on me trying to live up to his impossible expectations and never coming even close and thus being punished for letting him down.  My adult eyes look back on me as a little girl and I cringe; I can't imagine doing that to a child.  It was just cruel and unusual punishment.

One of my best friends was in town this weekend and we talked about him a lot.  We also talked about my ex-stepdad, another father figure who treated me badly.  The funny thing is that I don't really remember much of those five years, but Linda does.  It makes me feel weird and sad that I can't remember my own life and how someone treated me, but there it is.

I know that a lot of my parenting is in direct reaction to my own childhood, if not all of it at times.  I am determined to protect Hawk from me and other adults and our particular pathos.  I want him to learn to navigate life knowing he's inherently good and if I can get him on board with that even a little bit I think his life will be on less painful trajectory than mine or Rooster's was.

Sometimes I worry that all my parenting is reactive.  I see other adults in my life and how they blindly swing through life trying to relive their own traumas to a more successful end and I don't want to be like that.  I know I'm fucked up, but I struggle to do the right thing every time, even if it's the most painful, even if sometimes I slip and I'm not my best Me.

I don't think my father ever considered breaking a cycle a day in his life.  He was mired in his own pain and history.  My mother, on the other hand, was a rock star and beat her cycle with a baseball bat.  Where her family was neglectful and cruel she was tender and present, but we were also enmeshed, too close for me to differentiate and separate gently.  It was a shock to all our systems as I grew up and became more independent and more than a little traumatic.

I talk to Hawk all the time about how when adults behave in a certain way it has nothing to do with him.  Maybe they don't like being kicked by him, but it's not HIM, his little personhood, that they're reacting to.  Sometimes he nods and agrees with me, other times he insists it's his fault I'm angry.  I get that he's the center of his own universe and I'll continue to work on this with him because (and here's why I think I'm so reactive) I remember so clearly thinking that I was responsible for everything my parents ever felt and it crushed me.   And it crushed me to the point that my dad's death was a relief.  It meant that the legacy of pain had ended. 

Or at least I thought it had.  Because here I am reliving it in a vicarious way in order to not pass it on to Hawk -- such a strange phenomenon.  And I'm grieving and stumbling all over again.

Also, unrelated to parenting, I've realized that my father's influence on my life is still very strong.  My marriage protected me from my tendencies for 7 years, but on my own I'm much like I was single.  And that realization has been a real slap in the face.  A good slap, but a slap nonetheless.

Ahh... I love writing heavy shit all the goddamned time.  Ha!  Here, let me end on something cute that happened recently.  I went to get Hawk from daycare the other day and as I passed through the gate I could see him digging in the sand with his teacher Hailey.  The side of his face looked discolored and my stomach dropped a little.  When I got to a place where I could see his whole face I realized he was covered in paint reminiscent of a bloody beating (it was also on his belly, back and forearms, but I didn't discover that until bath time).  This kid goes to Kiddie Heaven every day at this little hippie school and I love it!


  1. I love this post. I feel you sister. xoxoxo

  2. Your childhood experiences resonate with me in ways you could never know! I feel your pain. I hope I am as present raising my kids as you are with yours. I am trying but it's hard!

  3. We all parent in reaction to how we were parented. I do. I am also trying my best. Just as you are.


  4. There's something about parenting that makes us relive our own childhoods in so many ways. It can be really freaking hard.

    I'm not sure I always do the right thing, or even my best. But what I hope is that by bringing greater awareness to the situation than my own parents had, I am at least on the right track. It's pretty much all I have, but it's something.

  5. I totally relate to trying to pass on to my kid that how adults (I) feel has nothing to do with him — and how hard it is to get that sentiment across, particularly when I'm the one reacting in immature and angry ways in that moment.

    Also, that paint picture/story is awesome. Mikko refuses to get messy. Must have inherited my tendencies there. But I always think that abandon looks like so much fun.