The last time I was intimidated by a seven year old I was probably a little kid, maybe four or five. That makes sense because bigger kids can seem mean in a distant confusing way. But now I’m 32. I’m not scared of anybody, not in the way a little kid is anyway. So why does the idea of my daughter visiting give me anxiety and a confusing kind of fear? She is seven and little. I could totally take her out. Let’s reason through this together. Here are some thoughts I have considered:
1. It has been almost eight months since I have last seen her. Maybe I feel guilty on some level, even though I had no control over the situation. Maybe the real guilt comes from knowing I had such a great year while I was away from her, a year she was almost no part of whatsoever. I should have been miserable, but I wasn’t. I should have sent more things, but I didn’t. I should have called more often, but I didn’t. I should have, I didn’t.
2. Maybe I am worried her visit will be awkward or that she won’t have a good time. I’ve made some plans for things we can do, but I kept away from over planning as well. I have lists and even considered (briefly) making a flow chart to follow in case we couldn’t decide what to do. I am most worried that she won’t want to come back next time, that she will tell her brother it wasn’t fun or sigh disappointingly the next time her mother tells her about plans for her to visit. Having a kid is inviting emotional torture into your life. Somehow it is both wonderful and terrifying, (numinous even, thanks Rudolf, are you sure it was God you were thinking of?)
3. Maybe I am worried that we’ll have such an awesome time that sending her back will be traumatic, for either or both of us. What if everything is even better than I imagined? What if we strengthen a bond I thought was weak, she confesses she is miserable at her mother’s and wants to live with me, we have an uninterrupted series of Hallmark moments and then I have to put her on a plane alone again and send her back while watching her eyes fill with tears? OK, that was a bit dramatic, but you get my point. It’s shitty whether she loves hanging out with me or hates it, and I’ll feel guilty either way!
Conclusion: I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not fit to be a parent. Everything is meaningless chaos. I want to say that I’ve placed too much importance on what somebody else thinks of me. If she were an adult, I’d brush it off. What do I care? I am me, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But that doesn’t work when its your kid. For some reason their opinions are immune from attempts to be dismissed or rationalized.
There is one thing I will get right during the five days she will be here. During the years leading up to my overseas vacation I spent most nights juggling multiple classes and reading as much as possible. It was important for me to be the best in each class I took, and I was interested in the material so it wasn’t that difficult to keep up. But it was time consuming. I turned down reading bedtime stories more often than I should have and when I occasionally caved in it was grudgingly. I am going to read her to sleep every night that she is here.
Maybe that’s all I can do. I’ll just try to make up for lost time but I’m not going to force it or get bent out of shape if things aren’t perfect. That’s what this writing is for anyway, a pressure value. Yeah, I feel better already. A drink wouldn’t hurt either though.