I wasn’t the best father to my daughter her when she was a baby.
I was in my 20′s, REALLY immature, and simply wasn’t ready for the massive responsibility of being a parent. I wouldn’t say I was a “deadbeat” in any way, but I certainly wasn’t the kind of father I should have been…which isn’t an excuse, it just is what it is. I can admit to that now.
It’s been quite the journey from my immature 20′s to my slightly dorky late 30′s. But if I can think of anything that I can attribute to my ex-wife is that she helped smarten me up when it came to how I was as a father. She didn’t want our son to grow up the same way my daughter did.
Brief history lesson…
I split with her mom when she was 9 months old. I moved to Newfoundland shortly thereafter for a solid year for work purposes…totally missing out on sooo much of her early development. It’s a shame, too…because she was (and still is!!) a gorgeous girl.
Once I came back I really tried to reconnect with Rugrat, but it was a very long road and I still wasn’t quite ready for the responsibility. I could never get her to fall asleep in her crib…she hated spending time with me (although she was so young, it was really hard to know for sure)…and I just never felt a closeness with her. At all.
Like I said, I missed out on much of her early development…too much. Even as she got a bit older, when she stayed overnight with me on the weekends, she cried for her mom. Now I never took that too personally but I realized at the time that it was because I didn’t spend nearly enough time with her. And during the time that we WERE together, I wasn’t as interactive as I should have been.
When she got sick, I didn’t know how to react or what to do. One night, in fact, she threw up in her bed. I ended up getting so rattled that I called her mom for help. She wasn’t there but HER mom was there. I acted like such a child that night…I just was so lost that I ended up taking Rugrat home because I didn’t know (nor really did I want to) how to deal with the situation.
I was a bad father. At least that’s how I feel about it now. Okay…maybe not “bad”, but certainly not a good father. I just had so much work to do in so many areas…but I was still interested in only myself and my own life. I treated her like a “side project” instead of the focus of all my love and attention.
It actually got to the point that when her mom asked me if she could take her a plane-ride away to Ontario so she could begin a new life with her boyfriend (i.e. her current husband), I didn’t put up the fight I really should have. That distance really affected our relationship in an adverse way.
I did try over time, though…and we began to form a bond over the years as she got older. It’s a bond that still isn’t nearly as strong as I would like it to be, but I’m doing what I can to make sure she knows I’m always here for her.
As she grows older, I hope she realizes that her little brother is what has helped me FINALLY “see the light” when it comes to being a parent. The multiple mistakes I made…the selfishness…the not being there enough…those are now lessons learned when it comes to Ankle Biter.
As she grows older, I just hope we can talk about the mistakes I made…how I want to not only maintain a relationship but to make it as strong as possible.
I’m a much better father now…a much better man…but there’s always room for improvement. I’m very hopeful that she will give me the opportunity to grow with her as she grows older.