Monday, August 11, 2008

Guest Post: "My Daddy's Girl I Am Not" by Mama Nabi

[We have a lot of women readers. You are our partners, our lovers, the mothers of our children, our mothers, our sisters, our friends. You are Asian American mamas and mothers of the next miscegenated/transracially adopted/panethnic/multiculti Asian American generation, our fellow travelers on this journey called parenthood. And we wouldn't be here, literally and figuratively, without you. Thus, it gives me great honor to be able to repost this meditation-on-the-father-and-child-relationship slash shout-out slash exhortation-to-us-to-get-our-fingers-back-to-the-keyboards by longtime reader/commernter/supporter Mama Nabi from Kimchi Mamas. What'd'ya say, fellas? Shall we step it up a notch?]

Last time I saw my father in person, he and I took a walk around the University of Minnesota campus. We were waiting for our ride to northern Minnesota to attend my sister's wedding. I was grumpy and resentful toward my mother and sister for dumping Dad on me. That was in 1991 and I have not seen him since. 17 years. In the beginning, it was his choice to travel as he pleased without any commitment to family; for about a decade, it is I who have enforced a filial embargo against him.

During my childhood, Dad was "dumped" on me often as Mom took my sister to her various lessons and extracurricular activities. This is how I learned to sit and watch boxing and kung-fu movies... or just sit in a corner and stay quiet. He didn't take me for walks or to playgrounds... Dad is not exactly a proponent of "quality time with your kids". Despite all those potentially bonding moments, Dad and I shared more awkward silences than I have shared with bad dates.

It did not help that whenever I screwed something up or showed my temper, Mom would cluck her tongue and say Just like your father... you can't deny the genes; you are your father. It was the most hurtful thing she could say to me and it stung. I got most of my looks from him - that was bad enough, I didn't want to be like him, be him.

Thus, I read Metrodad's story in KoreAm Journal with much interest. With equal interest (along with sympathies and compassion), I read his tribute to his father-in-law who recently passed away.

Until I went to a boarding school where I met friends who love their dads, I had no idea what a dad's role as a parent could be or should be. I never talked to anyone about my dad. I was ashamed. Embarrassed. As a child, a teenager, I somehow thought it would reflect badly on me, as if I had done something so extremely terrible for my dad to behave as he did. And as an adult, I had my notions of a good father but it barely registered to me that a good father should *gasp* interact with his child.

While I hopped from one blog to another, in hopes of finding similar voices and concerns being an Asian mom in an interracial marriage, I ran into Rice Daddies and read this intro post. Intriguing... dads think about stuff, too? Well, blast them - not only did they reshape my notion of an Asian dad, they made me question my then husband's parenting involvement... or lack thereof. I started to talk about these newfangled daddy-types I found online. I wanted him to get excited about this new resource for him. Hey, these guys are trying to figure out how to be daddies, too. Maybe you might find something in common... Nada. No interest at all. Once I practically forced him to read one of Metrodad's posts - he had asked me to help him look something up online and I told him he had to read this really really funny guy - who happens to be also a daddy.

I won't repeat the exact words he used to denounce MD's humor... it was something to do with letting his daughter eat out of his dog's foodbowl. Suffice to say, we had a mini-argument. He didn't understand what was so fascinating about guys who seemed, to him, a little "too into parenting". I know. You all may close your jaws now. No worries. I am no longer married to him.

So, am I saying that RDs contributed to my divorce? No. Well, just a little. Not in a bad way. I am grateful that they showed me who a DAD is... and what to expect from him. In a way, they are also helping me heal my own dad-daughter wounds and angst. Not just in a way that tells me my father was and is an asshole... because, yes, he is an asshole, period... but also in a way that helps me navigate my own feelings toward forgiveness. Yes. I would like to forgive my father. He was never a daddy to me, perhaps he just didn't know how - although, I know he's been a better father to someone else's children (that's another post) so I am thinking he does know. Whatever his reasons may have been, I would like to one day wake up and decide to lift that filial embargo. And perhaps be there for my Little Nabi as she will have to sort through her own feelings about my ex-husband, her daddy.

RD's have lately been spotty with their posts, however. Sorry, guys, there's no gentle way to state that. They have added two new voices recently so I am hopeful that they won't become defunct... we do need their input, their collective voice, and that "y chromosome" of which they seem to be so proud (read their tag line).

So, KM readers - do visit those daddies over at Rice Daddies, show them some love... it's not often that a blog can say that it planted the seed that grew into a divorce. (And I say that with affection...)

Do you have a rice daddy in your life of whom you are proud?

-Mama Nabi

No comments: