Monday, March 30, 2009

My sweet daughter's struggles...

Yesterday, as I painted a room in my house, Anevay watched a film called 'Nim's Island'. The film is about a little girl who lives with her father on an island, and the adventures she has after he goes missing at sea.

My daughter talks less and less about her father. This summer, it'll be four years since we've seen him (the last time we saw him was traumatic). Anevay was very silent while watching the film, and didn't say a lot after it was over. I knew she was tossing around some difficult ideas.

Whereas Anevay used to have distinct memories of her dad, they have all but disappeared. She talks about how she once slept with him in his bed, and remembers what his armpits smelled like. She remembers watching a movie with him. Playing with a ball in a backyard.

We look often at photos from when Anevay was an infant. Fortunately, we have some amazing pictures of her father holding her, smiling at her, loving her. Anevay's favorite picture is one just minutes after her birth, in which her father stands over her, a huge smile across his face. "He was so happy," she said.

I want her to know that he was happy. That the smile she sees in that picture was not part of some act... See, he's not a monster... He just had (has?) a lot of growing up to do, and couldn't figure out that he wasn't the center of the universe. Unfortunately, it is Anevay who suffers...

Last night I put Anevay to bed, but about twenty minutes later she came out to the living room and hugged me tight, crying, "I miss my daddy." I brought her to bed, let her cry it out, and then we talked about it.

What bothers my daughter the most is that she knows that she once had a father... She knows that there is a void, that there is an empty space where he once was that can never be filled by anyone else. I remember this feeling acutely, as my own biological father was largely absent (although I have an amazing step-father who has always been loving and supportive).

My heart goes out to my daughter. I try hard to compensate for the loss of my daughter by being super-mom. We spend most of our time together, we cuddle a lot, and she always has the choice to sleep either in her bed or mine. There was a time when she had a lot of nightmares... She rarely had them when she slept with me. Even though the nightmares have largely subsided (they were mainly about her father not being there), she takes comfort from sleeping with me. And, to be honest, I rather like waking up to my daughter's cherubic face on the pillow beside me.

I wish things were easier for my sweet Anevay. I think that the love she has for her father is wonderful. I hope that someday, when she's old enough to make her own decisions, that she makes wise choices concerning what her relationship with him might be, and that he is more receptive to her wishes than he was to the idea of being a parent.

Until then, I'll be here for Anevay. I'll sleep with her every single night, if need be. I'll be there when she needs to cry, I'll hug her when she delights in things. And someday, if her father can get with the program (I'm not going to hold my breath), I'll tell him about all of the many successes our daughter has had. How much she has always loved him. Perhaps it will be a lesson in unconditional love.

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