Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birthday Cards

I've talked about my relationship with my biological father from time to time over the years on this blog (see "Papa Can You Hear Me?"). Our relationship, for the first time since my pre-teens, is now one of warmth and compassion, at least from my perspective. Warm, but distant, and that is how I prefer it and something tells me it is how he prefers it as well. After all these years this is really the only way we know how to navigate each other. So much time has passed I finally realized that I had to make peace with the fact that I will never truly understand him, nor he, I. Getting to that place was HUGE for me. On those very very rare occasions that we do talk, I allow myself to feel my love for him. When I say "I love you" I do mean it as much as I can when it comes to he and I.

I made a decision while I was pregnant with Stella that no matter how things improved or didn't with my biological dad. That I did not want him in her life. It was such a difficult thing to do. But the chance of her heart being broken by him is just too high. His involvement in my life was so fleeting and confusing I refused to risk that with Stella.

Being a parent means being there for the good and the bad no matter what, no matter how many hours you worked, no matter what life throws your way. My "Step-father", the man I know as and call "Dad" was there even when I pushed him away. This is the man that Stella knows as her grandfather, he has been there from the moment she took her first breath and she has him wrapped around her finger. Its such a beautiful thing seeing them together. You could not ask for a better grandfather and I knew he would be, And after years of being a total shit towards him, it has been the only and best way of honoring him... She is his and his alone.

Eventhough, I made this decision, I have from time to time sent pictures or updates on Stella. I do this partly because of the compassion I feel, but mostly in honor of my grandmother who would have kicked my ass if I didn't at least make these small gestures. And yes, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some small part of me that does it to remind him of the consequences of his choices when it comes to our relationship. Ultimately though, although he would never ever admit it, he knows that his role and any claim he has to Stella is non-existent.

Over the years he has sent cards on her birthday but she of course could never read them and so it was easy to omit the details of their origins. But now she is oh so inquisitive about everything especially family and where she came from and how our family came to be. It still blows her mind to know that "Ghangi" is my mom. That she took care of me when I was her age. She has only ever known me calling "Paw Paw" Dad. And now she can read and read very well.

A few days ago my biological dad called and we exchanged pleasantries, but anxieties set in when he told me that a birthday card for Stella was on the way. This is such a metaphor for my relationship with him in my youth. He sends a sweet wonderful card that's full of love and often times money. And you think "Oh my goodness he does love me!! See it says right here "you are never far from my heart and thoughts" I'm going to call him right now and find out when he's coming to get me..." only to be met with excuses and nary a phone call, letter, or one on one time until my next birthday or Christmas card.

I know its going to inevitably say "Grandaughter" on it and it too will be filled with words of love and rainbows. So now my head is filled with "then what?"s. Do I try to explain it all to her? She has this fantastic, beautiful idea as to what a grandfather is supposed to be. She will immediately expect an explanation as to why this new grandfather isn't in her life. But like my reasons for not informing her of his existence I know that this card too is fleeting. He will never have to answer her questions. He will never have to take responsibility. Nor do I want him to. Because I know he will tell her what she wants to hear and whatever it takes to smooth things over for the moment but in the end he will never back it up. Its just not in him. So do I keep the card from her? Do I save it and give it to her when I she can wrap her head around it? Do I give it to her and hope for the best? Or do I wait and listen to my heart when its in my hands?