Friday, May 12, 2017

- Where Our Hero Forgives Himself His Greatest Sins

My daughter turned 17 last week. I’ll be seeing her later today for the first time since her birthday, and unfortunately, in the interim she and I have come as close as we ever do to having an argument.

In a post the other day, one which she read, I wrote something which hurt her feelings, because she felt it was unfair to her mother, my ex-wife.

I could see her point, and in fact I did think that maybe it involved telling a little too much personal information. So, in deference to her view, I immediately apologized to her and redacted the portions of the post which upset her. She too has since apologized for making such a big deal about it, which I’m led to believe means that she recognizes my right to my own views about my own life, and to reveal them or keep quiet about them as I see fit.

My relationship with my daughter has been one of the biggest things in my life. As big as my career choices, my choice of habitation, or my choice of getting, or staying married. And I’ve written quite a bit about it over the years. It’s all in tiny dribs and drabs because I’ve always tried to be sensitive to exposing too much.

But by most people’s accounting she’s almost an adult now. She has her own life (as much as anyone would ever call the last 12 months of High School a life), her own opinions, and her own very distinct and very charming personality. So I thought it might be a good time to begin to take stock of things.

This little disagreement with her has gotten me thinking about Fatherhood and how that role has changed for me over the years, and how vital a part of me it feels. It’s an interesting question, the changing role of fatherhood as your children become adults. One that I’m sure many men have different answers for.

One thing that hasn’t changed though, is that I have always felt that the word ‘love’ is too small to describe the relationship. When I think of my daughter I don’t think of ‘loving her’, the way one loves ice cream, dogs, or even one’s spouse. It’s something considerably bigger than that. The analogy I’ve used to describe it is that you don’t love your hand, you don’t even think about it. You don’t have to. It’s a part of you, and you’ll do anything, including a long list of totally irrational, dangerous, or immoral things to keep from losing it.

Being a parent is sort of like that for me.

When I was my daughter’s age, my father the drunk was brutally trying to get me into the box he wanted me to be in. To him I was never my own person, but an reductionist extension of him. This went all the way down to the bottom of his fragile ego, and if I slipped up in any way, he saw it as a direct reflection on him, worthy of all the violent rebuke he could muster. As if I were his hand, but instead of being controlled by him I was giving him the middle finger, outside his own volition. I never wanted to be that way with my daughter.

From an early age I related to her the mantra that her life is hers, not mine, and though I want her to have the tools and the strength she’ll need to make that life into what she wants it to be, her life’s choices will always be hers. And though I might not like the choices, and will in all likelihood say so, she’ll always mean the same to me no matter what they are.

In turn she has rewarded her mother and I with an astounding degree of trust. At 17 I was utterly convinced, with more than a little cause and considerable evidence to support it, that the most dangerous person in the world to my personal well being was my father. While she is often frustrated or annoyed with me, my daughter does not feel that way at all. And I can’t tell you how relieved I am about that.

One of the things I’ve written a lot, and that many of you have heard me say in person, is that I became a father with no idea how to do the job properly. I always envied guys like my buddy Rob who see their dads as an ally – someone who will back them up, and help them through the rough spots in life.

All I ever had as an example for a father was a man who created most of my rough spots from whole cloth, and did his best to make their effect on me as amplified as he could. And it’s hard to learn to do a job properly when all you have as an example is one particular way ‘not to do it’.

So when I became a dad, I did it on purpose, with the full knowledge of what I was getting myself into. And all I wanted in the whole world – the way I would prove to myself and the universe that I really was a good man after all - was to be better at it than the example he had set for me. I still don’t really know for sure if I did or didn’t. But even if I did, a negative example isn’t really any example at all, and it doesn’t mean I haven’t made a total hash of it in my own way.

So anyway, I decided to read through my past posts, for anywhere that I made mention of my daughter in more than a passing way. There are dozens of posts that detail in varying degrees, the barbaric violence I would visit on the people who might harm her, and I didn’t include those. I only included those that give you some small window of how the role of father has changed for me over the years.

It’s a sort of RFNJ retrospective on fatherhood, and the effect a changing society has had on a man who had no intention of changing with it. Given the last week, it seemed important to me.

So here, in more or less chronological order, is all the stuff I’ve said about my daughter over the years. I won’t say every experience is one I’d like to repeat, but on the whole there is no other human who has so enriched my life, and made me so glad and grateful I’ve lived it. It doesn’t stop here of course. But I think it’s useful to look back sometimes as well as forward.

One last thought. We men, in many respects, are the sum total of what we do. Our acts upon the world are what define us. And if you're curious, reading back on these posts has made me feel that in spite of my every expectation and fear, I probably haven't been all that terrible a father. I'm imperfect of course. We are all fallen creatures. But I tried to do as well as I could with the tools I had, in the unplanned circumstances where I found myself.

And anyone who has seen what an amazing person my daughter has become, will likely feel exactly the same way.

9-11 Redux

The Virtues of Closed Captions

Look... An Eagle

Grammar School Politics

Black And White

Pyongyang remix

Keynesian Monopoly

Home Alone

Where I Support Obama

Still Thankful

A Joke From My Daughter

A Holiday Message

A Father's Day Message

Gators and Foot Dangling

Rich Kids Revenge

Hyper Regulation

Hunger Games

Immoral Health Care

Those Who Can't

Pondering The Perfect End

An Alternative Universe

Laziness And Insecurity

RFNJ Greatest Hits

A Working Vacation

A Shooting in Chicago

About Minecraft

What a Coincidence

When Cultures Collide

Don't Miss This

A Dog's Life

Low Information Comments

Turning A Corner (my life's low point)

An Airwheel Review

Facing Reality

Alitos Replacement

The Red Pill (My divorce Explained)

Endorsing Trump

Obama Fallen

White Privilege

Make Bone Marrow Great Again

Black Men And Race Traitors

The Gays are Revolting

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