Happy birthday, dad.
This is my father and me. I guess I am two or three years old in this picture.
My father; who used to hold my hand, play with me, show me the way, and lead me “uncharted waters”. Teaching me how to swim, how to ride a bike. Think and discuss intellectually. How to polish shoes like a pro and organize the books on a bookshelf so precise...
Someone who believed in my capabilities - for a long time.
How our image and understanding of a father changes and evolves as we grow up?
Do we still need a father to hold our hand closely and show us the way? (whose way to lead really?)
I think a father’s role changes, like everything else in life, do. It evolves and shifts as their child grows up. The same concept applies to the mother as well. You can no longer provide the same hands-on physical support that a one-year-old needs to a 30-year old. Because it is not what is needed anymore.
It is a parent’s never-ending task to tune-in to the needs of their child and responds accordingly.
Now that I am a parent myself, I constantly think of my everchanging task and the hardships that come along with it. I embrace this role as a part of my identity as I know this is the most important journey I embark on throughout my life – both the teacher and the disciple.
An adult child needs another kind of “support”; more of a psychological or emotional being. They need more of a “witness”, rather than a guide. They are the leaders in their own life, they already took whatever they need to take from the parents and flying with their own wings now.
This desire to have the parent to “witness” as the child navigates through life challenges, it is a fundamental desire. This fundamental desire never changes.
Being accepted as who you are by your parents is the most primitive and powerful desire in every child, I believe.
Having this kind of acceptance, I think, is a very rare and invaluable gift that a parent can give to a child.
I hope I can see Eleanor for who she really is and embrace her way.
What if we have fundamentally different views and desires from our parents that we constantly argue whose way is right and prove others wrong? How this relationship evolves or thrive? Or at least survive? These are questions that remain to be answered.
Putting aside all the disappointment, regrets, and bitterness of our relationship for a day, for a moment maybe. This is a moment of reflection. A moment of truth.
The truth that I felt betrayed by your behavior (no matter what the rationale behind it was) and we are at a point where I don’t want to have you in my life anymore.
I did not envision our relationship coming to an end like this.
I wish, you were in my life as my father, not to hold my hand anymore, like you used to do when I was 5, but be proud of the woman, the scientist, the person I become.
I wish, we could give up this struggle to find out who is right or wrong, and could say “I am sorry if I hurt you unknowingly” and truly mean it.
I wish, we could take responsibility for our actions and change our behavior for a healthier relationship.
I do wish there was a way to accept you as who you are and get celebrated in this relationship for who I really am.
I know these wishes are far from reality and I always bow to reality.
Even though it is not possible to be there for each other anymore -
I do hold on to this image of my father when I was 2-3 years old and cherish that he existed in my life then and loved me at that time.
Happy birthday, dad.