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Good Ol' Lutheran Guilt

I have buckets fulls of it, passed down for generations. Even though I do not consider myself a Lutheran anymore, and for quite a while now. But still, I suppose I had no chance.

I don't know if I'm a good father. Sad, eh? I imagine every father feels this way, more or less often depending on their personal guilt tolerance. But I'm feeling it hard the last two weeks or so.

Last week especially was bad. At work it was The Week From Hell(tm). I had to actually walk away from a project, something that I've never done, and something that is just out of my work character. It's been hard to deal with.

Then there's the normal - I'm gone 10 to 12 hours a day, M-F commuting and working. When I leave, I've seen Zoe for an hour or so. Some days I get to feed her breakfast. Most days I'm, get a cuppa joe, then get in the shower, eat breakfast and go. By the time I get home, she's asleep.

I relish my weekends when I can see her all the time. I carry her everywhere, just so I can be close to her. I let Amanda sleep in on Sunday as late as she wants, and Zoe and I have our together time in the morning. Usually our weekends are full of "going out and doing stuff" or "people coming over here so we can do stuff" (being the social animals that we are) and although I do get to spend time with the family and our friends this way, after weeks of this, I feel like not only am I getting the short end of the stick, but that Zoe is going to turn on me one day in her teens and say "If you had been around more often, ... "

And I guess that's the crux of it right there. My dad wasn't around during some of the most formative parts of my life when I REALLY NEEDED him to be there. We've since patched up our damaged relationship and we get along pretty good now (babies will do that), but I can't say with a clear conscience that I have completely forgiven him. And I don't want to do that to my child. It scares the bejeesus out of me.

Of course, on some level, that's only marginally more scary than realizing that there is a bejeesus IN me to begin with, but that's something else....

On the good side, I did put together a new computer today, with 50% of my old hardware, and it just now booted up and is working. So hooray for me. :)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2003 11:21 pm (UTC)
Good Daddy
Well, from what I've seen of y'all in the last two weeks, I'd say you're an excellent Daddy. :) Zoe is a happy, well-adjusted, well socialized little girl who obviously adores her daddy and her mommy. I know the fears you're voicing about not being there enough; Paul has the same worries and fears. I don't know what the answer to that is, except to hang onto the thought that the love will come through-- you obviously love your daughter like crazy, and she will know that, now and later, even if you have to work too many hours and drive too far.

You're part of a new generation of involved, caring dads (and hooray for them!) who end up having to work more than they want to, because they'd rather be spending time with their kids. Way better as parents than most of our generations' fathers, who had moms who did almost everything to do with the childcare and rearing. You'll see. Zoe will turn out just fine, and you're both doing a good job of raising her. :)
Mar. 17th, 2003 12:42 am (UTC)
I agree with artbeco - Zoe's a lovely young lass and obviously loves you (as well as Amanda) as you obviously love her.

The difference between you and the stereotypical always-working-never-home dad is that you do come home and *spend time with her* when your are home, that you enjoy spending time with her. Your choice to spend your worktime away from her is also made out of love, since one has to pay the bills and buy food with something...

Your love counts *way* more than whether you're always present, and it will continue to carry through as long as you show it to her, which you're so far doing just fine.
Mar. 17th, 2003 12:57 am (UTC)
My dad was a workaholic when I was a child. He was rarely home, as his job consisted of travelling during the week and visiting customers.
At the weekend he wanted his peace and quiet.
But still ... the time we actually *did* spend together was high quality time and still lingers in my memory, sometimes I think it's a little unfair in comparison to the tons and tons of time my mom spent with me, and *still* I remember more of the stuff I did together with him. Yup. I adore my dad ;-) I bet Zoe adores hers, too ... *hug*
Mar. 17th, 2003 02:13 am (UTC)
You have my sympathies. I know I'm very lucky in that since my job is only a half hour commute and 'normal' hours I get plenty of time with Alex - indeed, since Lissa works in London I get more time with him than she does during the week (though fortunately by flexing her hours a little she can usually be home before 6pm and so get a good couple of hours a day). I usually feed him breakfast and also do the nursery drop-off and pick-up.

When she went back to work I think Lissa was somewhat nervous about dumping these responsibilities on me. As indeed was I! And yes, there have certainly been some mornings, especially at the start, when I could have really done without the extra stress ("Okay, so where has mummy hidden your shoes *this* time? AAARRGHH! *grin*). But at the same time I suppose I've been very lucky to have these chances to get to spend time with him.

I think in your case it's swings and roundabouts. If you saw her more during the week then your weekends wouldn't be as special and precious to you both. I certainly don't have the same "carry Alex everywhere to be close to him" feeling at weekends that you say you do with Zoe - indeed for all we love being with him, there is definitely an element of taking it in turns at weekends to get some time to ourselves! And just as its more special to you, then it's probably more special to her too. Perhaps not even in spite of your time together being limited but because of it. (A bit like time at filkcons, I guess.)

If you weren't a good father, you wouldn't be feeling the guilt in the first place...
Mar. 17th, 2003 08:17 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I wonder too.....
I ofen ask myself the same thing. I don't want to be "The Man Who Wasn't There" for my daughter.

The hard part about knowing whether or not you're being a good father is that there aren't any standard metrics or scorecards, other than ask your wife "How am I doing?" But you've already recognized some of the things that your dad did, and are taking steps to not repeat them. I think that's a major plus.
Mar. 17th, 2003 08:58 pm (UTC)
I'm going to point a couple things out. Scott would go for days at a time not seeing his dad and when he did see the man he was angry about something. Scott's mother used their dad to threaten his brother and his dad allowed it. This was a pretty huge thing. Scott is not a monster to his daughter. He's loving and playful and she's always glad to see him. Example: Zoe and I met Scott in San Jose the day after he flew up for GDC. He came down to the lobby to meet us and Zoe ran to him. A bad father wouldn't have cared one way or the other if we'd gone at all. I saw my dad every day but I still grew up feeling like I just never lived up to the expectaions he had of me and I started to be glad when our interaction slowed down. No one has a perfect childhood. And no one is a perfect parent. All we can do is to do the best we can in the situation we are given. Love our children and let them know it. Give hugs and play with them. Make sure they know they matter and that they are not an inconveinience even if we lose our patience once in a while. Zoe adores her daddy. He makes time to spend with her and I and we do fun things together. I can feel compassionate about wanting to spend more time with her but I can also say that Zoe is a very lucky girl. It's okay honey. You're doing a good job.
Apr. 6th, 2003 06:43 am (UTC)
From what I could tell from my visit with you guys, you are a WONDERFUL father, Scott. Both of you are great parents, with a great deal of love. Zoe is a very lucky daughter.

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )