There’s a tremendous difference between raising a 3-year-old and attempting to be a part-time parent to an 11-year-old. I can’t even begin to full explain things. Just let me say that for as much as I’ve wanted to be the “perfect dad” during Rugrat’s recent holiday visit, I feel as though I’ve failed miserably.
I found myself, at multiple instances, being increasingly frustrated with her. I wanted to be carefree and fun, but found myself agitated and tense a lot of the time. I had to continuously remind myself that she was just a kid and didn’t know any better…
…and that’s what bothered me the most, I suppose.
I feel as though The Ex and I are really doing a great job in raising Ankle Biter. He’s just an incredibly sweet, attentive, and well-behaved child that I think he’s spoiling things for Rugrat. She’s awesome, don’t get me wrong…I love her to death. But her inattentiveness and forgetfulness and inability to listen has something to do with her own upbringing, I think. I get the feeling that Rugrat simply hasn’t been raised the way I would have liked to have raised her…and that really bothers me because it’s my own fault. If I hadn’t let her move away years ago, or if I hadn’t been so bloody immature in my 20’s and had been more intent on being a better father to her, then maybe she wouldn’t be “this way“.
In my mind, she SHOULD know better when it comes to certain things. She should be acting a certain way and behaving in a certain way and life should be easy. Of course, that’s not realistic and I know that…but because I have that picture in my mind on how my daughter should be, it takes away from my enjoyment in accepting who my daughter IS.
And I really don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I’m sure 99% of all kids her age act the exact same way. It’s just frustrating because I’m not used to that. I’m not used to her forgetting her Nintendo DS charger at home then forgetting her hair brush at her grandmother’s then forgetting her toothbrush at my parents’ place. I’m not used to her asking a question and having it answered, only to have the same question asked a couple of hours later. And I’m certainly not used to feeling like my child wants to visit everybody else on the planet but me.
It’s all just hard to take in and digest.
Sunshine has been incredibly helpful in helping me smarten up, calm down, and flat-out work harder to be a better father. When I was down, she helped pick me up. When I was out of line, she let me know. When I was frustrated, she understood the frustration and tried to put things in perspective for me and set me straight. I don’t know what I would have done without her.
I may not be perfect, but we had a conversation where I told her what I was going through and how I was trying my best. I apologized for not being the father I wanted to be and that I would do my best to improve not only during the rest of her trip but going forward, as well.
At this point, I really don’t know if she wants to visit me, per se…I really think she’d rather spend time with my family and her grandmother and even my ex-wife before me…but at least she now knows I’m trying and I guess that’s what really matters.
So at the end of the day, I suppose the visit wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was…nor was it nearly as good as I hoped it would be. But my daughter spent the holidays with me…and whether or not things were perfect, we still got to have some father/daughter bonding and a visit is still 100% better than no visit at all.
Parenting is a never-ending learning process…and I’m glad to say that I’m totally open to learning as much as possible so I can be the best I can be.