Letting go

In July 2011 we visited Kansas City to see family and I interviewed with Children’s Mercy Hospital.  When we returned home Royce and I talked about my interview, and the visit in-general, and we both knew we would never move back to Kansas City, it’s just not where we felt home was anymore.

This was also the last time my father saw Sydney.  And a few weeks after returning, after a phone call where I had to get into what was appropriate conversation to have with my husband and what wasn’t, was the last time I’ve spoken to him.

Since then he chose to call me to wish me happy birthday via voice message at 6 PM on my work phone the evening of my birthday.

He chose to not drive up with my mother and sister to Des Moines for Sydney’s 2nd birthday party thrown by Royce’s mother in November.

He has chosen to sign cards to me and Sydney as “Tom” instead of “Dad” or “Grandpa”…if he even signs them.

He has chosen to not call or email or send any other correspondence to congratulate me on my pregnancy.

And yet yesterday when dropping off my sister at the airport he states to her that he ‘wishes we lived closer so he could help’.  A wish I know I’ve heard from him more times than necessary.

So Tom, do tell. If I gave up my career I’ve put over 8 years into, moved to KC to take a job I don’t want, to live closer to you, who is currently out of a job and is of retirement age, how would you help me? Would you change a diaper? Would you engage my children in play? Would you engage with them at all?  Would you pick up the kids from daycare?  Stay home with them if they were sick so that we could go to work?  Would you cook me dinner? Clean my house? Go get my groceries? Watch the kids on the weekend so I could go shopping?  Please, do tell… because after all that you have not done for me this year…all that you have missed out on with Sydney since you last saw her in 2011…the complete void of interest in my current pregnancy.  I’m curious.

When we first started Parents as Teachers with Sydney our home visitor gave us a lot of question based behavioral tests.  One of the questions she asked was along the lines of “Do you expect your children to comfort you when you have a bad day?”.  And like any good test it asks you in multiple other ways the same behavioral question (e.g., “Would you discuss with your child your concerns or anxieties about family budget or money problems?  relationship problems?”).  Of course Royce and I thought these questions were absurd so we asked her why they were part of the exam…and she said you would be surprised at the number of parents who think their children should be a mini therapist for them…they go to their children to express their burdens on life, work, money, relationships and they expect their support.

This of course makes sense to me now as I feel like I’ve been my Dad’s coach and therapist since I can remember…constantly reassuring him on his purpose or importance in my life.  Bearing weight of his burdens.

But in November 2011 when he chose to not attend Sydney’s birthday party, I stopped, because I got tired of the drama and emotion involved in constantly having to provide this support when frankly, as a new mother, I needed it more from him, my father.

What I’ve wanted from him all these years was so simple, it’s what most children want from their parents.  To want to be involved in my kids lives, for him to be proud of me for graduating from college, to be proud of me for getting married, for having a good career, for being financially responsible, for having children & trying to be a good mother.  What I definitely don’t need is recurring guilt from him over the decision I’ve made to build a life and career here in Maryland, a seemingly impossible idea for him to support since he can’t possibly be any ‘help’ if I’m living out here.

I have no idea if my father is proud of me for any of what I listed above or if he has any interest to really know Sydney or this baby outside of what he gets on this blog.

I probably never will know to be honest.

But part of me will always hope things can change, and he may call and tell me.

PS: I know about 90% is not public blog appropriate but this is just something I had to do prior to facing what I expect will be a fairly intense year as we go from a family of 3 to 4 alone out here.  Writing is how I work through things… and yes, I feel better.  Also if someday this blog disappears…you have a good idea to the reason why…


  1. Makes me sad that you guys will probably never live near us. But not surprising.

    Of course, I have no desire to go back and live and work in Iowa, even Iowa City, as much as Albert would like to. I just can’t practice the kind of law that I want to practice there. And I’m really not keen to take a THIRD bar exam!

    And it makes me sad to read how little support you get from your father. My dad is often a man of few words, but he speaks the right ones at the right times. He and my mom visit and do projects around the house and play with the kids. When they move here, they will undoubtedly pick up the kids when we need them to or babysit or stay with them when they’re sick. A parent’s love and support, both tangible and intangible, can make life easier and more bearable in so many ways. I’m sorry that you don’t have the supportive father that I sometimes take for granted.

  2. mandysmusings says:

    I’m so sorry you and your dad had a falling out. It’s tough to live far away from family, but I think you and Royce have done a wonderful job making Maryland your home and making Sydney feel loved. I sometimes regret not living close to my family, too. But I came to similar conclusions — that my family, as much as they’d like to help, probably wouldn’t help as much as they think they would. And my hubby has such lofty career ambitions, I’ve pretty much given up on ever moving back to KC. I’m just sorry you have to go through this, especially with another grandchild on the way.

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