Since becoming a Father I have written. I have written to unlock parts of myself that have been scrambling to find some purchase on the craggy face of my often bewildering subconscious. It is a way to centre myself. To find some comfort in analysis and structure. To allow myself control over one of the most demanding and challenging situations I have ever had to encounter is an extremely rewarding experience. It will continue to be so during my short time here.
I’m not very skilled at talking to people. I’m not perfect at communicating my feelings in a face to face situation. I’m shy, nervous and usually quite afraid I don’t quite fit in. When I write everything seems to make sense. I can compartmentalise myself. I can give myself permission to be a certain way, to feel certain things without judgement. When the blueprint of my mind is laid out in front of me I can start planning ahead. I can start assessing what I can do better next time.
There is, however, something that I’ve never quite been able to feel comfortable about.
I have another daughter. I have a twelve year old daughter. I have a daughter who I haven’t watched grow up. I have missed out on so much. Part of it is my fault. Part of it relates to the circumstances surrounding us at the time. All of it boils down to the fact that I have a daughter who I don’t know. I haven’t watched her grow. I haven’t seen her start weaning. I didn’t see her first step. I wasn’t there for her when she started school. I haven’t been there when she needs help with her homework.
We speak now on the phone. We see each other when we can. Geography is the only enemy. We’ve managed to spend some quality time together and I can feel the bond growing. There’s a part of me that feels that the bond has always been there. It just needs tending. It needs to be fed with rich, strong experiences that bind us ever closer. We’re working on it. What frustrates me sometimes is feeling guilty. Feeling guilty for not doing enough. I have so many questions to ask her. There are so many things about her that I want to know, to understand and to feel.
So I asked her.
What three words best describe you?
The three words that I would say best describe me are probably confident, a little lazy and impatient.
Do you think we are similar? What traits do you recognise in me that you have?
I think that in some ways we are similar but didn’t realise until I had met you a few times.
What are you most proud of yourself for?
I think that I am most proud of the fact that I am my own person. That i don’t aspire to be the same as anyone else.
What did you think about me when we first met? What do you think now?
When I first met you I was nervous but I could tell that you were too. I thought you were nice and funny and interesting and as I have gotten to know you, I can tell that my first opinion of you was 100% right.
Do you think that any child needs a Father or a Father figure when growing up?
In my opinion, I think that a father figure is important. Some people never have one and they turn out fine but i feel that I haven’t always had a father figure in my life but I am incredibly thankful that I have one now.
If you could change one single thing in your life what would that be?
I don’t think that I would change anything about my life now. I have my friends my family and now my sister.
So there you have it. A few little words. A handful of brave questions. Honesty and beauty in return. I could not have asked for anything more. When I read her response for the first time something in me shifted. I felt the connection I hadn’t seen before that had always been there. When you’re looking for something it’s easy to forget that sometimes it is right there in front of you. She writes like I do. She astounded me with her responses. Minute by minute I feel I am more deserving to be known as her Father.