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When I Grow Up

One thing that becoming a parent has really changed in my life is that it forced me to think about my long term future. Where am I gonna be in 18 years?

The question that always bothers me is this: what kind of person am I going to be for my daughter?

It is hard to project out your personality. But it is even more difficult because of a standard “truism” people love to drop: you turn into your parents as you age.

If this is true, then which parent? My parents were wildly different people, especially as I became an adult. I don’t particularly feel like either of my parents. I share some sensibilities with my father; I share a mental composition with my mother, but nothing really day to day. I don’t really do something and feel like that was either parent coming out of me.

I think I would be doing pretty well if I developed into the smooth talking, sound advice giver that my father is. Or the ultra-loving radiant person my mother was. But, let’s face facts, no one is perfect. I hope that I don’t develop the contorted logic, manipulative nature of my mother, or the quick temper of my father.

I don’t have great feelings about my parents to this day. I hated my mother for a good portion of my life. I refused to talk to her for years, her last years, and really that was one of the best decisions of my life. And while I have referred to my father as my best friend many times to many people, that was something that developed mostly when I was in college. I used to feel like my dad didn’t respect me. I have no idea how true that was, but it is the basic idea of how I envisioned our relationship then.

I can say one thing for certain, my dad is a better dad of young adults and adults then children. And that isn’t to say he was bad with children. It is hard to say. When I was a kid he was very busy with work and school and single parenting. He made sure we had everything he could give us and more, and he made sure we were involved in everything we wanted to be involved in. So, he didn’t do anything wrong, and he was busy trying to build a life for us. So I can’t really say anything bad about that. What I am trying to say is that he is an incredible father for a young adult or an adult. He would try to relate to you as a fallible human. He would let you make your own mistakes. He would come help if you really needed it, but he let you struggle in it for awhile too. He wouldn’t pretend to be something or know something he didn’t know. He was honest. I think that was the greatest lesson he ever taught me.

But I’m still scared. I’m scared of turning into all their bad qualities on top of my own and none of the good. I don’t want to be a quick to anger, misleading, lying, condescending, stubborn, lazy, manipulative, contortionist of reality that I know is inside of me.

I think about this while I’m pushing the stroller. I think about this while I chase my daughter and blow on her belly. I think about this while I lay down for the night.

I have come to the conclusion that maybe I am equipped to overcome this. I am very open to criticism. I have never shied away from it in my past, and I am more than willing to put myself into a place to be criticized (like by blogging). So, hopefully as I age I continue to keep an open mind. Hopefully I continue to listen to people around me tell me when I mess up. And hopefully I continue to learn and grow. If not, Jocelyn might end up with a lot of Daddy issues.