I hope you’re doing good. I’m sorry for letting you down.
It hurts when I think that you might want to lean on me and can’t so I’ll be honest –I try not to think about that. Even when I do, I wouldn’t have a clue of what to say anyway.
Like everyone with a mouth I throw a lot of opinions around, but the longer I live the less I believe that anyone knows what to say for big stuff. There’s things when we’re young that we have to figure out to be adults. And a lot of times it just plain hurts to learn it.
That’s the hardest thing about being a dad, you know. Watching your kid hurt and knowing that you can’t stop that. That there’s nothing you can do –it’s awful. You feel like you failed but it’s just normal life, but your kid doesn’t know that yet so you guys get mad at us when we already feel awful. It’s all super confusing.
So, here’s the good news. If you’re confused, then that’s good. You must be on the right track then, because that’s what happened to me and everyone I ever met or heard of. Even famous super successful people.
They say the divorce rate is supposedly 50%. That’s a lot of daughters –and sons– growing up without their Dad’s around I guess. Or around much. And that’s if you even get to meet him, right?
Some Dad’s miss their daughters like crazy. Other guys find the whole thing so painful that they try not to think about it at all. Some climb into a bottle. There’s other guys who know their daughters are better off without them so use the disappearing act, or the kid gets the Old Yeller version of love, where they try to make their kids hate them so the kid won’t blame themselves when their Dad leaves.
There’s even guys that wish they’d never been born at all; so they couldn’t even have a daughter whose life they could screw up. And there’s everything in between. All of us Dad’s are a mixture of those tactics. There is no ‘right’ thing to do.
Look, it doesn’t really matter how it all got to where it is because it just is. No one means to get divorced. However it happened, that leaves you and your mom stuck alone. That’s not an easy thing for either of you. I want you to know that I know that. A lot of people know how hard that is. Even your mom had a mom. And bills are bills. Here is something I know for sure: you’ll hate those too.
Why I’m writing is that my friend’s daughter –she’s so angry. I don’t want you to be like that. Her anger’s just eating her up and she’s an amazing girl. I don’t want you turning your anger against yourself like that.
I want you to use your amazingness like the gift to the world it is. So I’m gonna try to explain the little bit I know in case it helps you. I’m sorry I can’t be there in person to do this.
First thing: you gotta remember that your mother’s a person. She’s not just your mom. She’s a lot of people to lots of us. But she’s a person. Remember that. If she seems mean or tough or even really super sad –this divorce stuff, and dating. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And all my female friends –they all tell me it’s super hard for them too. Be compassionate, okay?
Some of them feel pathetic after they break-up. Some kind of panic and try too hard. From what I hear from some moms, they even can end up competing with their daughters. That’s men’s fault.
Men can be pretty judgmental so being older probably seems pretty scary to a lot of ladies. I never even noticed my female friend’s necks but they seem to think they’ll never get married because of them. If your mom starts wearing beads it might be because she’s scared.
Sometimes moms are cold or angry or whatever, because someone betrayed them. People like that don’t trust love anymore. Not even with their kids. That’s how much it hurts. I have a friend who is so scared to love her daughter because she’s afraid of what will happen to her if the kid ever rejects her. She’s already lost everyone in her life so this thing with her daughter –she’s terrified.
There’s also moms where sometimes the mom just never got any love given to her so she had no one to show her how to give hers away. If this is all making life seem too complicated and not worth it –it is complicated. Way more complicated than you can know. But it’s totally worth it. It’s why I’m writing. If you don’t see your own value you can waste your life not living it. And that’s bad because life is great even with all the crap.
Don’t forget, a lot of problems moms have, got caused by their husbands. And even if they didn’t, if she’s in pain she’s in pain. Don’t expect her to show that because she has to be strong for you. So her pain’s gonna come out as anger. Remember that. Your mom gets mad when she’s hurting.
A friend of mine went to see Oprah talk. She was shooting a movie –Oprah I mean, not my friend. And the director had to teach Oprah how to tuck-in the girl playing ‘her daughter.’ She didn’t know how because she had never had that happen. Her mom had a hard life and was cold and her grandma was mean. And mom’s –or anybody– can’t give away what they’ve never been offered.
What matters is, Oprah’s life turned out great. So a girl can have the worst mom in the world and still have a great life. And your mom’s a long way from the worst. Your mom’s so good I had you with her. She loves you it’s just –you’ll see. Being an adult is not parades and parks and ponies the whole way I’ll tell you that. She’s doing better than you think.
You deserve the love. You do. You are perfect exactly the way you are, pain and scars included. Never forget: just because people can have trouble showing it doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It already hurts us when we can’t show it, so you being mad just makes it worse.
If a kid asks for love we should give it to them. We should. But sometimes we just won’t be able to. You probably have stuff now that you wish you could stop doing –or start doing– and those things are probably easy too. I’m not sure why we can’t do that stuff, but your mom’s got stuff like that just like you and me do.
When she feels unlovable, every time you push her to get love she’s going to find a way to protect herself. It freaks anyone out when someone asks another person to do things that scare them. Moms are people. Dads too. We screw up and get stuff wrong. But none of that means you’re not loved.
Don’t spend your life angry. You’re loaded with so much potential you wouldn’t even believe it. But I’ve seen people waste that on anger or on being sad. Even if they have reasons to be, it doesn’t do any good!!
We have to make something of our life because it feels better when we do. We have to be selfish about that. I guess it’s like grandpa used to tell me. He used to always say, ‘life is its own reward.’ Huh. Now I’m him. See how that happens? (Some day you’ll have a daughter that will be mad at you.)
I hope you and your mom find a way to connect better and not fight so much. If that happens I’m glad. And if not, well, remember: Oprah turned a mean mom into a great life. Yours isn’t even mean. 🙂
So do what Oprah did with your dumb, absent Dad. But your mom is there. And what she’s doing is hard. She’s making way more sacrifices than you’d think. So just try to remember that her anger is pain. And remember she loves you. Because she really does. So don’t forget to love her back.
Now go be awesome.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.