Late this afternoon my youngest daughter
will arrive for a week long visit. I can't tell
you how excited I am to have my "baby"
with me. While we certainly survived some
rocky years, we've become quite simpatico.
"M" is a talented artist, photographer, cook,
decorator, and bon vivant. More than that
she's also beautiful, smart, funny, and bright.
For seven days I will pamper and adore her
as only a doting father can (and should)!
"M" has no cognitive memory of
ever living within an intact nuclear
family. Still a toddler when our
family fell apart, her memories are
of "visiting" me as I moved across
the country. While genetically and
emotionally connected, that meant
that sadly "M" didn't grow up in
my house. For years we mourned
that loss until we finally accepted
that our relationship was different.
Once we embraced reality, things
moved to a much better place.
Like it or not, divorce is never easy.
It splits one family into two while it
throws all involved into emotional
turmoil. Good intentions aside, few
handle the resulting debacle well.
Suddenly Mom and Dad are single
parents who must share the burden
with a former lover they no longer
love. The resulting tension creates
a family dynamic that is anything
but nurturing. Sadly it's the children
who are always stuck in the middle
when all the need is to feel the love!
Most of us marry again. That thrusts
a complete stranger directly into the
family circle. Odd man in the middle
is rarely a pleasant place to be. I've
watched many truly committed step
parents try their best and yet struggle.
While few get to pick their parents,
everyone selects their spouse. Why
should anybody assume their choice
will be welcomed into the fold with
open arms simply because they love
them? Time, fortitude, and patience
are the best tools for joining a family.
Ultimately we all grow up and that's
an imperfect process at best. While
victims of divorce fuel most psycho
analyst's pay checks, at some point
everybody moves on. In their anger,
some opt to reject their parents. As
one who has been sent to purgatory,
it's not pleasant, however one learns
to accept their fate. Others continue
to nurture and maintain even tenuous
parental relationships. Whether said
need is driven by guilt or love doesn't
really matter, staying connected does.
I'm blessed that this dear child of mine
continues to want to be part of my life.
I can't wait to catch up on what's new
and discover who she has become. Like
most adult parents, my role has shifted
from disciplinarian to friend. Now we
can discuss almost anything and learn
from each other. This new dynamic
requires candor, humor, and intimacy.
Roles often reverse because now both
are willing to be vulnerable and have
nothing to prove except the love they
have for each other. "M" meet "G"!