This is just going to be one of those stream of consciousness posts because I'm typing through tears and don't want to stop and try to figure out how to make a cohesive thought.
Today is effectively my last day of summer with my daughter. My mother is coming to take her until next week when we all get together and do our big anniversary celebration. I realized this as I lay in bed last night. Last Day of Summer. And I felt so sick I got up out of bed and went to look at Savannah while she slept and I started to cry because I'm just like my father.
And that makes me so sick I could throw up just typing it.
Until the day he died my father was filled with regret. Regret that he didn't play with me. Regret that he was selfish. Regret that he was so angry all the time. Regret that he shooed me away. Regret that he drank too much. Regret that he watched too much TV. Regret that he never talked to me about boys. Regret that me broke his promises again and again. Regret that he chose himself. Every moment. Of every day.
As he lay dying he sobbed with regret.
And I said all the right things. I told him he was a good father. I told him I had a happy childhood. I told him I didn't carry any emotional scars from my protector being my tormentor. I told him he was forgiven.
He and I both knew that was a lie.
As I lay there with my broken father, I had just started my journey as a parent with a cherubic three year old at home. I lay there next to him in the home where I grew up and I promised myself this wouldn't be me.
I may not lay a hand on my daughter. I may not scream at her. I may not call her names.
But at what point am I going to realize that just being better than him is not enough?
Last night we sat in some friends' backyard. My wine glass miraculously refilled itself again and again. The laughter got louder, the jokes funnier. Savannah wanted to be involved. I kept dismissing her to go back in the house and watch a movie. Over and over she told me she was tired. She was bored. I tried to tease her and accidentally hurt her feelings. I embarrassed her in front of everybody and she started to cry. I apologized but the damage was done.
Eventually she went inside and fell asleep.
Hours later I woke up in the middle of the night gripped with regret.
It was sobering how familiar that situation felt.
The adults, the alcohol, the laughter. Being dismissed. Being a nuisance. Being humiliated.
Only now I was on the other side of the wine glass.
It occurred to me that I never did half of the things I promised I'd do with her this summer. A day spent playing board games in our pajamas, doing a picnic at the park, going on a scavenger hunt walk, redoing her bedroom.
And what good reason did I have? None. I was too busy doing what I wanted to do, smug with the satisfaction that at least I was home. Passively parenting.
How much time do I have left? How many more chances will I have to make it right? How much longer will my daughter keep looking for my attention before she writes me off until I call her one day and tell her I have four months left to live?
I've felt this sense of urgency to be a better parent before. But this time my heart is shaking me awake. To put down the laptop. To put down the phone. To put down the book. To step up my goal from being better than him and start being better than I've been.
I choose you, Savannah. I choose you. And starting today, I'm going to do a much better job showing you that I choose you.
Update: Ugh. This is one of those posts that you immediately wish you hadn't written once you hit publish because you feel better now. But then you realize that you only feel better because you wrote it.
Updated Update: Savannah just woke up and when I asked her if she wanted to stay in our pajamas and play board games today she responded with a fist pump and a "yes!". God, I love that girl. She just makes this parenting thing so easy sometimes.