Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “July, 2022”

Drip, Drip, Drip

It keeps happening, and I cannot explain why. I know when it started, and quite possibly the event that triggered it. I just cannot explain why it has not stopped. Surely enough time has passed. Evidently not.

Yesterday I took my daughter to the airport, following a brief visit with me. She was returning home, to prepare for her upcoming freshman year of college. The car ride was unremarkable, the expected “pep talk” about how “I am just a phone call away,” and a variety of sage-like advice, occasionally followed by the anticipated eye-rolls and “I know Dad”. I put a lot of pressure on myself, to make sure that as teenager at the beginning of her adult years, that she was prepared for all the financial decisions, the ability to be wary around snakes and predators looking for suckers, all the while remaining focused on her purpose for college, all the while enjoying the many new experiences she will have. I needed to make sure all of my bases were covered.

As we walked into the airport, both of us pulled up our masks (we still wear them, our choice), and proceeded to the TSA area as she did not have to check any bags since this was a short trip. My daughter took one last mental check-list to make sure that she had everything, and pulled out her identification. And then came our hug good-bye.

We have done this many times over the years following her visits to me. Even during times of custody conflict, unsure when the next visit might be, or, depending on how bad the Covid19 pandemic would get, unsure if and when the next visit could take place, I always kept my composure. This farewell was different though.

Let me reflect back before I get to that difference. There had been a lengthy time difference due to a custody issue that I will not get into, but it prevented me, legally from seeing my daughters, for well over two years. In that time, both of my daughters had growth spurts, and from the last time that I had seen them, when they basically came up to my chest in height, now, were as tall as me. I talked to them every day on Facetime, but I had no concept of how they had grown, until they were standing right in front me. It was shocking to me, the physical evidence of “time” that I had missed seeing them in person. I could not help but break down.

So back to yesterday, it happened again as I said good-bye to my oldest daughter. She let go of her carry-on luggage, and we hugged. And then I heard her say, “I love you Dad.” I have never kept track of who says it first, I would say it was fairly even regardless, but this particular moment, right after she said it, I am sure she felt my grip get a little tighter.

I had been preparing for this moment for a while now, and honestly, have a bit of an advantage over her mother as far as “separation” goes, and the time that my daughter and mother will now be separated, just as my daughter and I have these last years. And even though I felt I was ready, as my hug got tighter, I tried to say back to my daughter, “I love you too.” Four simple words, should have taken less than two seconds to get out. Instead, the effort took more than five seconds for each word, because all of a sudden, I was choking back tears.

This was not the emotions I felt concluding each custody visit. Quite the contrary, I knew at that moment, I was sending my daughter on her continued path of greatness as an influencer (out of respect for her I am not stating her interest, but her studies and her career will have an impact on people, I can at least blab that). The next time that I will see her, hopefully, will be at Christmas break, if not sooner. But she will have completed her first semester, the toughest semester to get through in college because of all the personal adjustments she, like all kids going to college, will face.

I never used to be this sappy or mushy. I had always been known to keep a cool head, focused on the task at hand, in control, never let anyone see my reactions. The “when” and “what event” I was referring to, emergency open heart surgery in 2008 to save my life was when my emotional floodgates were opened. While it is common and normal to experience depression and anxiety (I did experience both in the few years after), I feel that my “drip drip drip” of weepiness is something different. I just have yet to figure it out. I am not saying it is a bad thing, albeit a bit embarrassing, and once again for my daughter.

But as my daughter walked through the TSA line, she had no doubt, that I love her, even if I had a hard time getting it out.

The Next Chapter

I have been busier than usual this past week. I received a visit from my older daughter. This was not the usual visit that I had been used to, like visits shrouded by a custody order that made it feel more mandatory than natural. No, as an adult, this was a trip that she wanted to do. Both of us know, when she returns home, she begins her next chapter, college. We begin our next chapter, Dad and adult daughter.

On the way from the airport, I told her how much it meant to me for her to visit. And as my readers are aware of this “problem” I have, I also told her that I think I am ready to stop constantly looking at all the photos of my daughters from their childhood, as if grasping to hold on just one more day. This is a huge time for both of us.

My daughters know of the absence of my father from my childhood, but we really had not had a chance to discuss how my father and I moved on, the impact we had on each other, and in the end, what it meant to us. There is a difference in this comparison though with my daughters, as they will not have the huge gap, of a childhood lost to overcome. We simply make the transition to the next stage of daughter/fatherhood. As I remained active and present in their lives post divorce, there is no lost period of time that needs to be dealt with.

I have spent quite a bit of time over recent years, having more serious level talks as they near adulthood, to better prepare them. You know, the good stuff, money, decision making, and of course boys. As my older daughter’s visit comes to an end, I am hoping that I have covered everything that I want to make sure that she knows.

I am psyched as for the first time, she will have roommates, and not her family. She is literally trapped with them for the college year. I have expressed to her, that there is a huge difference between getting along with your roommates, and liking your roommates. To give clarification to her, I used a television show that she watches, Big Brother, as an example. Being a college roommate is not about eliminating anyone’s favor, so there is no strategizing for an edge. All four of these students are equals, and will remain that way for the school year. Accept that. Respect that.

There is a lot going on that first few weeks. Adapting to class schedules, study habits, eating, and very important, sleep habits all need to be learned by everyone. And then of course, there is all the activities going on around campus to experience. Finally, ah, the big city, must explore. Best yet, she has no one to answer to, except herself, that is, as long as her grades support her extracurricular activities.

Her course schedule seems pretty decent and manageable. And if she keeps up her study habits when it comes to homework like she did in high school, her studying should not be affected. She has already been to the website, “Rate My Professor”, and found all of her professors, and saw some of the comments about each, some good, some not so good. My daughter seemed to focus on the one professor who clearly would be the most challenging for her, a challenge I am confident that she will meet. The professor is likely to be the most critical, the most demanding, and the least forgiving, and someone who will truly test if she is meant for this major. Her biggest issue to overcome, procrastination. I urged her to no longer put off for two weeks what was assigned today.

I have given her as much fatherly advice as I can, but probably the most important, “you will make mistakes along the way.” And just as I always told my daughters growing up to “stay a child,” I have told my oldest daughter, “it is okay to make mistakes on this part of your life. Mistakes are a part of learning, and fortunately, at this point in your life, they will not likely be big mistakes you cannot overcome.”

Finally, I told her, I will not call her everyday like I have the last eight years, but that does not mean that I am not thinking about her. I know she will be busy, and as an adult on her own, she will have her own schedule. I asked only one thing of her. That we make sure we connect with each other either by phone or Facetime at least once a week, likely a Sunday.

I will drop her off at the airport soon, and give her that hug that sends her off on her journey. As she begins her journey of being an influencer, I hope that I have had enough of an influence on her myself.

I am proud of who you have become, and will be even more proud of who you will be. The two greatest blessings in my life, I get to call both of you, my daughters.

Real Dad

A while back, I wrote about a co-worker, someone I had considered at least on friendly terms, who made an unfortunate comment about my decision to adopt my daughters. Because I was adopting internationally, he felt that I was bringing people here to take jobs away from Americans, as opposed to the US sending job overseas.

It is not unusual for people to make ignorant and bigoted comments. Especially when it comes to the world of adoption. Some of the comments can be quite insensitive. But nothing could have lit my fuse more, than a comment made over this past weekend, not to me personally, but came across my news feed.

Because I want this post to be directed as intended, and not something political or any other cause, I am not going to name the person who said it, not even gender. But after reading my post, a simple “google” will tell you who said it. Said what you ask?

“Children are in the greatest danger in America today, because traditional family values are being destroyed, the idea that Mom and Dad together, not fake Mom and fake Dad, but biological Mom and biological Dad, can raise their children together, to do what’s right for their children raising them to be confident in who they are, their identity. Their identity, they’re a child made by God.”

Again, a simple “google” and you can find out who spit out this garbage on their podcast, last Thursday, July 14th on Rumble, and you will find a person who has made racist and bigoted comments in the past. So it is no surprise that this person would have no issue making an ignorant and pompous comment as to imply anyone other than a biological parent, is “fake.”

Now, as some may figure out who this is, may want to run to this person’s defense with “they did not mean that you were a fake Dad. You are taking them out of context.” Am I though? This person clearly said, on the video with their own tongue and voice, available on Twitter, “Mom and Dad together, not fake Mom and fake Dad, but biological Mom and biological Dad,” is quite clear.

If this person wanted to be specific, as I said, being a racist and bigot, they know how to single out a specific type of “fake” parent if they wanted, such as “gay parents” or family’s with trans family members. But they did not, because in the past, this person has had their ass handed to them for the other stupid comments made in the past about race and the LGBTQ community.

No, this person was quite clear, if you did not birth the child, you are a fake parent. If the child does not have your genes, you are a fake parent. So, let’s take a look at the types of “fake” parents this person could be referring to as not having “traditional family values.”

  • step parents
  • single parents
  • gay couples
  • trans families
  • adoptive families

I am going to stop there, because I need to make sure I stay in my lane, in other words, speak only of which I know. Though I have had both a stepmother and a stepfather, I do not credit either with who I am today, so I am not going to refer to them either. I will let everyone else advocate for the groups they support.

But, for me, I am an adoptive parent. I am not “fake” as this person put it. I am a real Dad. And from the moment they were placed in my arms, I have done all that I can, to make sure that they learned my values, which I know are different from this person. After all, who is this person to decide that their values are better than mine? Neither of my daughters have gotten into any trouble, legally or morally. They seem to have done well with the values I have taught them. I have taught them how important it is to be proud of who they are and where they are from, and to learn and respect all of our American history as well as their Asian culture, for that is the only way not to repeat the ugly parts of it. They are law abiding, respectful, polite, and loving. And if you asked either of my daughters, I am definitely their real Dad. And they are definitely confident in who they are.

No, they were not born of my blood. But they were born in my heart. And from the moment they were placed in my arms, I became their real Dad.

I am sure the adoption community will have a field day if they share the outrage and disgust I am experiencing from yet another worthless and pompous self-righteous judgement from someone who really needs to look at themselves before judging others. In fact, it has been a while since I have opened it, but if this person believed in what they spoke, which is clearly written in the Bible I was raised on, Matthew 7:1, Jesus warns that those who condemn others will themselves be condemned (also loosely translated, “judge not, lest ye be judged”. Someone needs to practice what they preach.

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