I haven’t seen my father for 10 years now, and before that I hadn’t seen him (apart from the few times I ran into him in the pub!) since I was eighteen years old.
You see, my father is an alcoholic. He has a disease that took over his life and caused him to lose any real chance of having a healthy relationship with his three children. Sad – but true.
For most of my childhood and all of my adult life, I have been without a father figure.
It took me many years (and lots of therapy and vino) to come to terms with what happened to us as children. The anger and sadness has faded, but there were a few tough years there where I couldn’t even speak about my father.
I am thrilled beyond belief to share with you all that I did not follow that pattern of women who go onto find themselves in a negative relationship because they are desperately trying to recreate the love that was lacking from their father.
In fact – I have managed to snag myself a man that couldn’t be any more different to the type of role model my father was. He is loving, kind, sensitive, and thoughtful and the most beautiful father any child could ever ask for. Most importantly though – he is present.
Although I know that I am very fortunate to have the support of such a man, I have to confess there certainly are days when he simply drives me up the preverbal wall!
It is a common discussion amongst us mothers about how our beloved other halves often send us to the brink of despair, when it comes to the everyday organisation and discipline of our children.
A good example of this is when we are heading out somewhere. My husband turns to me and says “I’m ready” and grabs the car keys! He rarely thinks about what our child might need or all of the things we need to take!
On the other hand I know we need sunscreen and a jacket, as we live in Melbourne and you never quite know how the weather will present itself throughout the day!
I also know that as soon as we get into the car my daughter will ask for her water bottle. Or that you can NEVER have enough snacks, and that any type of food will save you from an emotional explosion when blood sugar levels’ seem to drop to all an all-time low at the most unpredictable times!
Sometimes I just have to remind myself that he really just doesn’t know these things. I mean, how could he?
I only know all of these things because I am with her the majority of the times, and ok I will admit that on the odd occasion I too have forgotten an essential item like a nappy or beloved cuddly toy. But for now- let’s just keep that between us!
It has taken me a while, but I have finally come to the realisation that my beloved husband will NEVER do things the way I do –and you know what? I really don’t want him to.
Some things to consider –
Have the utmost respect for their relationship: The relationship that he shares with our child is by far one of the most beautiful things in the world to me. Nothing makes my heart sing more than seeing them together. I am not jealous or threatened by it in any way. Their bond is unique and special to them. The love that they share is not more important to mine –it is just different.
Make a conscious effort not to interfere: There are times when I have to consciously tell myself not to interfere, or interrupt, and let my husband do things his own way. I’m not going to lie – it is bloody difficult some days. It takes a lot of self-control on my behalf.
However, I am learning that he needs to feel empowered and know that he is doing a great job with our daughter- and he is – he just does it in his own special way.
I have to ignore the fact that almost every single time he takes her out alone they will go and have a strawberry milkshake and a hot dog. Another all-time guaranteed favourite in our house is a sausage in bread at the local Bunnings!
I have stopped rolling my eyes and groaning that he does this, for many reasons.
Firstly, I am having much need time to myself, and secondly they are spending time together which is so important for their relationship. It is irrelevant what they do or what they eat. It is about the time they have together without me there.
My husband never once questions me on what I give our child to eat, or makes me feel like I have not had her best interest at heart. I try really hard not to do it to him.
Give them praise: Fathers need to hear every now and then that they are doing a good job. They need to know that we trust them to take care of our children and keep them safe, without us breathing down their necks. If we want them to be more involved, we need to encourage and praise them to let them know how we feel.
We can teach them some of the things we know about our kids: Don’t always take for granted that our fellas know what to do. As I mentioned before- how can they know all of the ins and outs of taking care of our children if they are not there with them all of the time? Communicating with each other is so important. Share with them the things we know about our children, so that they are tuned into their needs. In our house we now negotiate who is getting our child dressed (and yes I have had to resist the urge to get her changed if I don’t like the outfit he has chosen!) and who is packing her snack bag when we are getting ready to head out as a family.
For a woman who has grown up without a father in her life, I am so grateful that my daughter will always grow up knowing that her Daddy spent time with her, and was present in her life.
Hopefully he isn’t creating a hot dog and strawberry milk addiction in her, and one that we will later have to pay for therapy to eradicate!
I joke of course, but it is just so important that we acknowledge the importance of father’s roles in our children’s lives, and how much of an impact this will come to have on them in later life.
We have to acknowledge the fact that they will NEVER do things the way we do – and that is ok!
And besides that – the more time they have together – means more time alone for me!
You won’t hear me complaining about that!
Love Chrissie xx
“Empowering families to create the perfect mix of chaos & love”
Chaos to Calm Consultancy would like Wadawarrung of the Kulin Nation. We acknowledge the elders past, present and emerging -particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who walked before us supporting and connecting their children to the earth, water and community. Always was. Always will be.