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March 03, 2008

Well, that took a good long time

Yeah.  So.  Back to a JACK-FM content-themed blog.  Shouldn't have looked at the page before starting to post, I wouldn't be even more depressed than I was.

What I heard on JACK-FM on my way home from work tonight:
Led Zeppelin -- Black Dog
3 Doors Down -- Kryptonite
Harry Chapin -- Cat's in the Cradle
The Cure -- Just Like Heaven
Queen -- You're My Best Friend
Metallica -- Unforgiven
Tonic -- If You Could Only See

While I was crying so hard my face nearly went numb (which always seems to happen to me when I listen to Cat's in the Cradle) I wondered why it was that, every time I hear the song, even if I convince myself I'm not going to cry this time, I cry.  Somewhere around the son's 10th birthday when the son is smiling anyway...

So.  It occurs to me that I not only never "had" a father, but that I never wanted one, either.  Growing up, that is.  Which of course I still have a lot left to do, but I...well, I would say I digress, but when you're digressing from a digression aren't you possibly progressing?

I never wanted a father until now that I don't have one anymore, and I never realized that it's a big huge part of why I'm convinced I'll still be a crappy one even though I've had over 7 years of practice.  Since I didn't have much to model fatherhood against, and I didn't have any latent desires to have a...well, OK, that's not entirely true either.  I keep trying to father the way I saw my grandfather do it but without the...yeah.  I'm a little screwed.

My step-father, you see, the closest I had to a father and probably the biggest reason I didn't want one, spent the formative years of my life being a drunk.  Lesson learned: Be sober.

My real father, you see, was cut out of our life by my mother before my earliest memories.  He got re-added by the time I was a high-school senior, but by then it was...I can't say "too late" but I can honestly say "too weird".  Lesson learned: Be there.

My grandfather, my chief role model for parenting through the early (pre-school) years, was a wonderful man.  He just had a sort of inability to praise or compliment people, which I try to avoid but also find myself doing.  Lesson:  Be supportive.

Be there.  Be sober.  Be supportive.  Those are my examples of fatherhood, for the pieces I was only somewhat missing.

I never really wanted to be a father, either.  My genes?  Screwed up enough thanks without foisting them on another generation.  My time?  Better spent in ways other than hoping not to fuck up our future (which they always say children are).

Somewhere in there I became a father.  Twice.  And somehow at the time wanted to be, both times.  Lots of time now I don't so much, because I see I was right about the genetic thing and I know it's not going to be a walk in the park and I don't know how I'll be able to handle it.  And I'm still convinced I'm going to fuck them up.

But then a song like that comes along and smacks me upside the head.  I'm a role model whether or not I want to be or remember I am.  So the best I can do is try to remember to be with them and show them the things that are important to me.  Time alone is important to me, which is kinda hard to reconcile.  But the books and the music and the movies and the games and the punctuality and honesty and shamelessness about run-on sentences if it seems to be a good cause, well, I can share those, right?  And maybe the writing.

I can show them how to live while appropriating other people's words to make sense of things -- books, movies, stories from games -- but I can also keep trying to show them how to express themselves with their own words, too.  That is, if I can keep trying to express myself, with my own words.

So I guess I'm back.

My father, incidentally, got out in July after all.  Took a trip home to Chicago.  To the same funeral home that did his parents' funerals, to join the family plot bought for him within a year of his birth.

I miss him in more ways than I knew him.  It keeps me alive, because it's hard enough to see and try to deal with my children losing their grandfather.  As easy as it would be to abdicate responsibility and just die, I can't do that to them.  Plus my wife has enough slack to pick up on behalf of my abdication of responsibility.

Some days are easier than others.  I keep hoping those will show up.
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