On Parenting and Family

I took Babykiddo to the park (read: Disneyland) Monday. As I sat on a stone ledge watching her play in a forest-themed playground that seems to be her favorite spot on the face of the earth, I felt the beginnings of fall weather starting to show themselves. Fall and winter are my recharging times. The world gets quiet and still, and I return to myself.

I contemplated the last two years. I thought about how, when I first brought her to this place, it was with DW. I thought about how we were still trying to be something more like a family then. A great sense of loss came over me as I mourned the dreams I had of creating a family unlike the one I’d grown up in; one in which the members listened to one another and cared deeply, without being controlling. I thought about how I wanted to model a healthy kind of love. Powerful love, capable of allowing everyone to thrive, and feel supported and safe. Having a child is a permanent thing. I can either find a way to stay with DW and give babykiddo one family, or I can force her to have two.

It’s an odd model to follow, though. Not that it’s without precedent. But a family in which her parents are not in love (or even pretending to be in love) with one another is strange to me.

What may be the most sad for me is that DW may actually be making some progress in therapy now. After years of literally begging her to work out her issues, now that it’s too late, she may have found a way forward.

I regret having to wonder whether she had ever been in love with me, or had instead loved the fact that she could show off her strong, sexy “husband.” With so many people before and since seeing me as a woman, how was it that she saw a man.

An interesting dichotomy exists between the science-minded evidence-requiring part of DW, and her emotional being, which seems stubbornly opposed to observing and considering evidence. I think her early life taught her to insulate herself from the world of feelings. The feelings around her were often hostile ones, so it certainly makes sense as a coping tool. Many maladaptive behaviors begin as coping tools, though, and the challenge is to recognize the point at which we no longer need them.

Whatever the case, DW will never be in love with me. This means Babykiddo will not have the family that I wanted for her. I realize now, that I only wanted to be a parent in a great family. I don’t want this family. I don’t want Babykiddo to have to live like this. My deepest (and most shameful) wish is that I had never made these enormous errors in judgement, and that I didn’t have to raise Babykiddo in a family I can’t simply be proud of. She will be maladjusted in ways I could have and should have seen. It is enough to mess up our children through routine daily mistakes. I am not trying to model perfection. But it would have been nice to model something I could at least stand behind.

I don’t believe DW to be a bad parent. On good days, I do not believe myself to be a bad parent. But we are not good parents together, and there was nothing in the evidence I had to suggest we ever could be.

I guess I stubbornly believed lies too.

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