Now that I'm an orphan, I'm going to be telling all the stories that I remember most vividly from my childhood and beyond, stories that play through my head like unwanted home videos I am forced to watch again and again, stories whose morals are that bad things happen to children who are born defective and that children who are born defective don't deserve good things from the people who are supposed to love them the most.
A friend of mine had her first child more than a year ago. This friend comes from a truly amazing family that has always had all the time in the world for her, is always interested in and supportive of her endeavours, and gives her all the unconditional love and attention that I desperately crave from my own family. I went with her one weekend to visit her family many years ago (such a warm and accepting and lovely family!) and was sad the entire visit and ended up spending at least half of it chain smoking in her front garden and thinking about my own parents who are so unlike hers, mourning for the family that I wanted and saw before me but never had and didn't feel worthy of.
Recently, this friend wrote on her blog that having her own child and realising all the hardships that come with the job has made her appreciate her parents all the more for the job they did with her and that she hopes she can be even half the parent to her own child that they were (and are!) to her.
I feel quite differently, of course. From the time Elliot was born, I have grown more and more sad about my own parents and my own childhood and how I was always and am still treated by my family. I know how much I love Elliot and how her best interests are forefront in every decision I make. I know how much time I devote to her, how I take an interest in her personality and interests, how we talk and joke and sing and dance and laugh, how I bring her little surprises to show her that I love her, how I want her to know me as a person as much as a parent, how I never want her to feel alone.
If anything, having a child, and feeling the intense love I feel for her, a love that rivals no other I've ever known, makes me realise exactly what my father doesn't feel toward me. I asked him once what he thinks of me, and he hung up the phone on me and didn't talk to me for months. I think a normal person would find this behaviour to be completely bizarre, maladjusted to say the least. But I'm fucked up, and that's just dad.