Room For Improvement

I wasn’t the best father to my daughter her when she was a baby.

Rugrat at 2 days old
First Halloween

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…

Cute as a button!

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.

Rugrat's first birthday

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.

CBG & Rugrat circa 2001

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.

This was a good day

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.

Rugrat & CBG: November 2008

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.

Rugrat & CBG: Summer 2010

4 thoughts on “Room For Improvement

  1. We all make mistakes…in life…as children, friends, lovers and parents. The important thing is being able to recognize and learn from those mistakes, which you clearly have. You can’t go back and change the man you were back then…you can only move forward and keep trying hard to be a better man now and in the future.

    As Rugrat gets older you two will have greater opportunity to talk about these sorts of things. The best thing that you can do for both of you as that happens is continue to be as honest as you have been here today. That took a lot of guts. I’m proud of you. And I hope you’re proud of yourself, too. 🙂

  2. Ditto to what Sunshine said.

    Most of us have regrets. We raised our son in a stable, family environment, but I was so hell bent on keeping him towing the line (i.e. CONSTANT hard ass parenting) that I missed most of his growing up. Now, he’s 27 and we’re closer than ever. I so regret those earlier years, tho.

    Find that comfortable, happy medium in corresponding with her and it will all fall into place.

  3. Like I’ve said before, just NEVER give up trying.

    One of my best and oldest friends moved away from our hometown in Louisiana to Dallas when his daughter was nearly 2 and he was divorcing her mom. He has had so many regrets at how they weren’t close but he kept trying. He never gave up. He always reached out.

    Now, his daughter is married and has just had her first baby, his grandson. He told me recently that he is moving back to Louisiana at his daughter’s request because she wants to be closer to him and wants him in his grandson’s life. He’s over the moon thrilled about it.

    She’ll find what a great man and father you are, sooner or later. Never give up and love her through it.

  4. Dammit. This brought tears to my eyes CaNook. It’s a strong, healthy man that will admit to what you just admitted to.

    And it’s a GOOD man that admits he can do better.

    Much love.

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