I have two little topics that have been rolling about in my head… #1 is actually a legitimate reflection, while #2 is pure stupidity.
1. Daddy now tells me that he loves me.
During the first 25 years of my life, I’m sure that Daddy probably did tell me that he loved me… or maybe it was just assumed. Either way, I don’t recall any particular occasion where I heard him utter those words. The roles in our house were very clear when I was growing up. Daddy was the financial provider – detached, distant, busy, stern, stressed, and scary. I avoided him if possible.. stayed in my room under the radar when he was home, which wasn’t often. Mama was the nurturer – laughing, loving, running the household, cooking, shouting, showing the full gamut of emotions, keeping things rolling along. Each day when I got off the school bus, I seated myself on the stool in the kitchen and summarized my day for her while she cooked dinner.
Throughout high school, my relationship with Daddy became increasingly strained. Resentment replaced fear, and I continued avoiding him as much as possible. College, then grad school, and not much changed. Then, I got engaged. When I called him at Michelin and told him that Bobby had proposed, he, over the roar of the machines running in the background, shouted that he loved me and that he was proud of me.
During the last five years, I’ve married, Mama was diagnosed with breast cancer twice, Daddy wrestled his finances into submission, and now things are different. I’ve come to realize see Daddy’s story as a tragedy – a man trapped by obligation and responsibility and circumstance. He fully acknowledged his love for Mama only after she left, and there have many times when I’ve talked to her about it, to make sure she knows just how much Daddy loved her. But Mama’s death completed a transformation in Daddy. He’s opened himself up to his daughters for the first time, his love for Maggie shines out of his face, and he’s finally coming to terms with life-long demons that I don’t and probably never will fully understand.
And when we talk, whether on the phone or in person, he tells me that he loves me. Every time. It’s warm and comforting, this new relationship that I have with my father. And I know that Mama’s death allowed it to happen… if she was still here, she would still be all we needed.
2. Maggie hurts my feelings.
Ok, prepare yourself for silly childishness. But whatever. Maggie doesn’t prefer me anymore, and it makes me very, very sad. Now logically, I know that she’s a baby and she’s going through “that stage” where her mama & daddy are all she needs or wants. But I feel an irrational and completely illogical hurt when she pulls away from me and cries when I hold her. She’s my favorite human and I’m suffering from unrequited love. See, I told you. I’m a stupid cry-baby.