Monday, February 2, 2009

Fatherhood, loneliness and what happens after the cliffhanger ending.

Of all the posts I have ever written "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father" is the one that consistently gets hit through google.  And I am sure that is because it is usually the father who gives up parts of his contact with his children when a marriage fails.   Maybe fathers are searching for those of us who experience the same pangs.

Whilst my relationship with my kids is a good one now, there were times when I was gripped with despair about what may eventuate.   But even now, there are times when I wish I saw them more often.  It is that daily contact, or lack of it, that makes things hard at times.  

Sometimes I just wish for a phone call from one or the other of them, just to ask how things are, what happened at work or school today, how are their relationships with friends going.  I miss the fact that they don't just drop in.  That it sometimes feels like it has to be a formal invite or an occasion for them to turn up.  And the standing Thursday night date is sometimes overlooked if other offers come along.

I miss not having the regular interactions with their friends and finding out what they are doing, or just sitting and watching as my kids interact with them.

The football season is coming up soon and I know that will provide opportunities for me to just hang out with my kids.  It's something to look forward to.

I think part of the melancholy is that when you no longer live in that original family unit, that your kids grow up and grow older in episodes.  It's like watching a soap opera rather than being part of it.   And sometimes you miss how the cliffhanger ending turns out, the drama and laughter happen in places where you don't exist.  And when you are able to catch up with things it is often passed off as not important anymore, so it seems that you only get the echo from distant mountains rather than the full on quadraphonic experience of the origin.

But there is also the knowledge that sometimes these things were going to happen anyway, because they did with me.  

I left far too much unsaid to my Dad, didn't take the time to know him, or give him the chance to know me.    I've learnt that fathers don't complain, that we accept it when our kids cancel on us, that we hide the hurt more often than not.    It's easier that way.   And I've learnt that kids don't see that, that fathers are often too good at hiding things.    And with that I've learnt that a father can be lonely even if he's surrounded by crowds.  

Loneliness is a fickle beast.  It hides in circumstance, in ritual and in occasion.   And if you find your self experiencing this lonely father syndrome, it doesn't necessarily mean that every aspect of your life is lonely.  Just sometimes, when you miss your kids, it can grab you and squeeze you till it hurts.

So instead of waiting for them to contact you, pick up the phone, say hello, tell them you love them and that you're looking forward to seeing them whenever that may be.  And when you do see them, listen to what they say, engage with them while you can, because that loneliness is only a short time away again.

So I leave you with this song.


Anonymous said...

As you know Loz, I have had first hand experience with a father who is going through exactly the same thing you describe here. It hurts me when I see the kids all taking their mother's side. He is far too noble to clue them in to a few facts that would see their mother's pedestal come crashing down and so he grins and bears it.

He's been a wonderful, engaging father their whole lives and now he is like a pariah though it is slowly getting better as a few chinks are being exposed in their mother's holier than thou armour. It's infuriating but all we can hope for is one day they will embrace their dad again just like they did once.

I think kids do tend to move away as they get older and try out their wings in the big wide world. I'm predicting that when the grandbabies come along, you will find them flocking back in droves. I don't think any of us truly appreciate our parents until we are parents ourselves, then the penny finally drops.

Loz said...

Gypsy - when we put anyone on a pedestal it has a chance to impact upon how we feel about them. You are right though, with age comes the wisdom that we are normal, and that means we hold the full gamut of human frailties in our DNA. We will disappoint and be disappointed. We will know both happiness and despair. We will love and be loved despite those frailties some times and at other times be judged far more harshly than we deserve. The only advice I can give is that you let it be known that the blame is shared, and that pedestals are for statues, not humans.

Live and Learn the Hard Way said...

This is why My ex-husband and I arranged out custody outside of the courts and why we are constantly reevaluating ways for the kids to spend more adequate time with their father. Sometimes our plans change as often as weekly so that he can spend as much time with them as possible.

Dorothy said...

Loz this is so beautifully written I'm so glad I stopped today haven't been here in awhile..

Please stay have their love and respect now and it'll do nothing but grow because you never gave up trying... hoping all is well for you...with the newer job....

Hugs Dorothy from grammology

Loz said...

L & L - My kids are generally grown up now but will be my kids for the rest of my life. That bond will not be broken, no matter that I have let them down at times. You sound as if you are doing the right thing by yours - keep it up.

Loz said...

Hi Dorothy and welcome back :). Despite the sometimes melancholy posts life is good.

Peter (Worldman): said...

The phone call part is an important one. Because it is easy to do. But it also goes the other way around: My mother never calls me. It is always me who has to call. So, once I waited a month to call her. And when I did, she was scolding me. I told her, why did SHE not call? But she did not answer. But then I have a strained relation with my mother. Since 50 years.