It is a lazy Sunday evening. I am finally enjoying a full day’s rest and a movie here and there. I kick Ms. Kitty’s little play-ball down the hall and she spins her sharp-clawed paws like a drag-racer’s tires, launching into pounce mode. As the prized ball hits a wall and deflects to the other side, Kitty uselessly tries to change directions. Bwahaha! Ahh, my FAVORITE pet entertainment worthy of viral YouTube status! This day cannot get much better. More please! Then my phone rings. It is my wonderful soon-to-be married 20-year old college-junior daughter! Hmmm. But we just talked a few days ago. Granted wedding preparations need much communication and many decisions, but typically we talk every other week or three weeks…unless…?
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For those of you who don’t know my family dynamics and recent history, due to a 2002 divorce and Texas Family Laws, I was forced to become a part-time Dad; a role that my family, extended family, and particularly myself never dreamt of becoming or wanted. If you’d like to know the dirty facts of our divorce, then Click Here for that page. It’s a brief narration.
Suffice to say, the divorce was finalized September 18, 2002. But this post is not about customary, nasty divorces by piles of wasted money. This is about the phone call. It’s about another ongoing conversation between an excited daughter and her tentative on-pins-n-needles Dad trying hard to say and do all the right things…a Dad who FINALLY has a pseudo-free daughter to chat with, to know each other a little better, and probably more accurately! This is a father-daughter relationship that got put on hold thirteen years ago.
We get through the usual formalities about what I’m doing at the moment, then I ask “So what’s up with you? What’s going on?” And this is pretty much how the conversation goes…
“I need to ask you something.“
If you think you know what’s coming, or you have maybe a clue, believe me you have not even scratched the surface of how many possibilities I’d already come up with.
“Yeah, what’s that?” I cautiously reply.
“What do you feel are the roles of a husband and wife?“
Seconds later, “Dad? You there?“
A distinct deep inhale begins, “I hope so.”
I am now scrambling my brain for any non-transparent way to transparently show I’m not buying time to not give the most moronic, stupid answer by all fathers on the planet. All my past relationships, marriages, flash across my memory. Cue the music…
Of course my daughter would be asking me that question because I am the pillar of marital success… if you don’t include my two failed marriages; the first lasting a whopping four months! And if you don’t include my last two relationships that did not end at the altar when perhaps they should’ve. And if you don’t include the previous five relationships to my first wife. And if you don’t include my arrest after catching my once fiancé with another man. No, make that two fiancés. And if you don’t include my own parent’s failed marriage after 28-years by Dad’s suicide over their 4-day separation. And if you don’t include my incomplete master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy after the suicide. And if you don’t include my in-laws, her mother’s family naysayers, cutting opinions about her Dad. And if you don’t include the fact that now five years after my last live-in girlfriend I’m still single today.
Sure, why not come to me, obviously!
“What a LOADED question. Why on Earth are you asking ME!?” my mouth blurts out chuckling at the irony. Knowing her version of her Dad’s marital fortitude, she begins laughing…
“Dad, you’re not going to be graded on it!“
HAH! The irony just keeps coming, the voice in my head screams! After some fourteen long years, this was not how I pictured our early heart-to-hearts. Though I have vast knowledge and experience in the art of never-a-dull-day intense, passionate relationships and windows of loves-never-truer sprinkled throughout — some of them naval portholes and others large picture windows to gaze the constellations — in reality, I am considered anything but the model spouse my daughter has been taught to seek and decipher. My proper title in her circles might be What Not To Marry: Lessons in Proper Dodging.
“This is for our pre-marital counseling at church.“
This I knew. Now I am somewhat relieved that she and her fiancé had not had a huge blowout fight and she’s rallying the troops. My daughter DID fortunately inherit her mother and father’s “take no bullshit” confidence. However, by all indications my daughter has wisely…umm, refined it. To that, I nod in graciousness. But wait! There’s another mine in this encroaching minefield.
“Just one counselor?” I suspiciously ask knowing her “circles.”
“Well, it’s us and two other couples. Like a support group with a counselor slash moderator.“
That voice in my head leaps up screaming, Ah HAH! So I WILL be graded! Relief steps out, familiar stress returns… en-force.
I attempt to keep my voice inflection normal, “You realize that my answer is going to come out of wormhole left-field of what you’re going to hear around you!?” She let’s out a big laugh…
“Yes. I know Dad.” she explains, “I just want to offer a different perspective to the group.“
Well, ain’t that the most soothing answer I could hear. If any of you have read my blog-posts about history, civil rights, social issues and same-sex rights, love, romance, marriage, polyamory, swinging and open-relationships, Biblical history and the earliest Early Church, then you’ll understand my daughter’s definition of different is in this case, a bit understated. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot: my near 30-years of BDSM that utterly sent her mother into ecstasy-orbit for eight years.
“Are you sure you want my answer?” in a soft semi-begging tone.
“Yes!” she answers laughing again, thinking of her father’s known flair for the dramatic. I let loose a long deep exhale…
“How much time do I have to answer this very important question?” …which so happens to involve the major majority of my daughter’s life! I need to take some time to really ponder my answer so that it benefits, or at least helps increase the potential happiness of my flesh-n-blood and her husband! Right? She starts her response…
“Oh, I have about 10 minutes.”
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Life can be stranger than fiction, even my fiction. It damn sure has a sense of humor. Daughters have ways of redefining the (in)sanity of love, marriage, children, and family for fathers, as well as the circus it sometimes takes to keep it all… normal?
I gave my daughter my crash-course in happy-love, happy-marryment in 5 critical points for both spouses. She gladly jotted-down my key points and words, even the ones I emphatically said to place all in CAPS because I’m
dramatic passionate that way, we actually talked and laughed for about 30 more delightful minutes. What gave me the biggest smile and glowing heart to last for weeks, was that she felt it necessary to include me… the man, the Dad she hadn’t and doesn’t know day-to-day. Yeah, happy-dance for this father.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
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