The eternal conundrum

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Just wait and watch out for the “hormone overdosed dude” she gets home to meet u…before u get the shotgun out reflect on the fact that in her eyes he is YOUR REPLICA!.  I was not sure what to make of this statement from my ‘Bro’.  Should I be worried that someday, my daughter, my little princess (who I hope will remain a cute little girl forever) would actually start dating and —–holy smokes—-get a guy to introduce to me???  I know these young fellas (I was one not so long ago) and I know what goes on in their twisted little minds :).

Or should I be happy, that my little girl would actually try to find pieces of me with some guy she wants to spend her life with?  So what I know for certain is that I don’t think any guy will ever be good enough for her and I will always see him as a loser.  Ok maybe not completely.  So I should be happy the she will find some loser who she thinks is like me 🙂 WOW, no one told me in parenting class 101 that I would need to deal with these kind of life altering decisions (in addition to changing diapers and cleaning soiled bums).

So I get thinking (I have been tending to do quite a bit nowadays) and think (ok I already said that before). When do kids really stop being your kids and when do you let go? Therefore the eternal conundrum – when does the cute as buttons little one become an adult with a mind of her own?  As a parent should I not protect her from all harm and make sure she is fine? Or should I let her make her own mistakes as she goes through life? Isn’t it one of the beauties of living that one really goes through so much and finally you have so much to really draw from?

My recent conversation with my 4 year old at 8PM on a friday as I drove back home from work

Kiddo – papa when will you get home?

Me – am driving baby I will be home soon

Kiddo – but why are you taking so long?

Me – because, sweetheart, there’s a lot of traffic as everyone is going home and papa is coming as fast as possible

Kiddo (without batting an eyelid) – but papa, why can’t everyone stay home so you can come home quickly?

All reasoning aside, can I really let such a sweet and innocent thing really stumble, fall, get bruised, hurt, cry, have her heart broken (by some jerk who was never good enough for her anyways), laugh etc etc while I put it all down to her tryst with life? As you can see, I quite suck at making parenting decisions and have no clue how to deal with this one.

As most wise people say (am told it’s no longer politically correct to say wise men…LOL) ‘time heals everything’ and I hope time will also provide me an answers to these questions and how to deal with such awkward situations. My dad, he was never the most expressive person when we were kids, but he always engrained in us that we had to experience our own lives and he and my mum would always be there for us.  For that I am eternally grateful.  I think I and my siblings are more independent adults primarily due to my folks. Not to say that we are not close to our parents but I think we have the ability to deal with whatever “googlies” (or curve balls as some people half way across the globe would say) the cosmic powers have to throw at us.

So, as always, I started off this rambling as an insecure dad dreading meeting the “hormone overdosed dude” and have reached the other end of the spectrum where am contemplating the little one flying off the nest and how to deal with all that would happen in between.

So my friends, now you know why the blogs are the ramblings of a confused man and I bet it all makes sense now……

It’s interesting now that I look back and think I have a lot more empathy for my ex father in law (may god bless his soul).  He was a very good man but somehow there was always something missing – he had a really quirky sense of humour but somehow I always felt that he held back when it came to me.  Maybe I did not try to hard (truth be told I was a much younger man and more truth be told…was quite scared of him too).  He was a man of uniform like my dad and had this aura about him which made me just a tad bit weak in the knees. So coming back to the point, I can totally relate to him now.  In me, he saw, a good looking but scrawny guy 🙂 (ok I was not the Greek god then that I am now :):)) and he said the same thing in his head as I do now “what the hell is my daughter doing with this loser? She can do so much better”.  We never really got the chance to bond but am pretty sure even if we did I would never have been able to measure up to the expectations he had for someone worthy of his daughter….

Such is life and I can see it coming across a full circle.

I recently read a small piece which I think summarizes the situation completely and really puts a lot into perspective for all us parents

Little girl and her father were crossing a bridge.  The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, “Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river”. The little girl said, “No, dad. You hold my hand.” “What’s the difference?” Asked the puzzled father. “There’s a big difference”, replied the little girl. “If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go”. 

So my little sweetheart, your dad will never stop you from discovering your own life and making your own destiny. But he will always be there to pick you up and put you on your way when you do have a fall.  Your dad will, most likely, never find anyone good enough for you but will accept that in your best judgment he is the best for you and accept the compliment that you see some part of me in him. And finally, your dad will never let go of your hand but he will learn how to slowly let go for you to find your wings………

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Brothers in arms

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Friends tend to play an integral part in one’s life and I may even stick out my neck – as much as family.  With family, many a time, one has to really consider that you don’t burden them when thing are not going right. No matter what they say, they will always worry and sometimes the pain it causes them is really not worth it. Friends, on the other hand, will always be concerned and be there for you but they also can be pragmatic and distance themselves emotionally from the situation.  As a dear friend puts it ‘sometimes you need to be transactional in your approach with a situation or person” devoid of the emotional baggage that may have been there. And family maybe cannot do it coz they are just so involved with you.

I believe that a fundamental difference between men and women really comes from their need or desire for friends. While a person’s circle of friends is largely driven by their personalities it is also, to some extent, influenced by their gender.  Without offending anyone, I think I have seen that women would tend to have more friends – the uplifter, the travel buddy, the truth teller, the girl who just wants to have fun etc. (truth be told – there’s some bit of Oprah and Cosmo in this profoundness :)).  So how many friends does a man need?  Well, a guy may have a lot of buddies but there will always be a ‘brother’ or bro…… There’s so much about the ‘bro code” that I will leave that for later.

I have been lucky enough to really have 2 bros in my life.  While they shall remain anonymous, like me, they entered my life at very different times and stages.  Yet today I cannot imagine my life being really complete without their individual contributions.

I met my first bro in school and we went onto become thick as thieves.  He was the cool dude who had a way with the girls. He could sing and very honestly there as not much that 16 year old girls wanted other than a boy to serenade them.  I never had that talent and we would always look upto him for juicy tid-bits and ‘lessons in smoothness’.   From 15 years old to now over two decades later, we have seen each other through relationships, marriages, kids and professional changes.  Today our lives are busy and we don’t speak as often but when we do – we pick up where exactly we left off – maybe a few weeks and sometimes a few months.  When we are together, we are still 17 year old ‘boys’ discussing the ‘girls’ that got away, the girls now and laughing at dirty jokes we found funny as adolescents .  He and I are living proof that boys are dirty boys, age notwithstanding.  We still laugh about how the higher power has gotten back at us by making us fathers of very pretty little girls :).  There are no expectations to continually be in contact or really keep asking what we are upto.  But we both know that the other will always be there when we need each other. I don’t see us any different even 20 years from now.

I met my second bro more recently, when I was going through a vulnerable stage in my life. I credit him for introducing me to the wonderful world of single malts. On that pure joy alone – he would qualify as a bro 🙂 but he has been so much more than that.  From giving pragmatic advice to counseling me to just beating sense into my head when it needed to be done. He was always there.  We met in the most unusual circumstances (which is separate blog in itself) and our friendship developed over some bar hopping, and half burgers in the wee hours of the morning (after all men in amazing physical shape as ourselves, could not afford the calories of a complete burger :)).  We’ve taken a road trip, got completely wasted and yet not been embarrassed the next morning…. Ok so it was more me than him…but that’s what bros are all about.  We can talk about sensible stuff (he talks more and I listen soaking in the knowledge being dished out) or just go back into the past when we were younger men, our school, the life and just be bumbling young men.

Funny story, that I was actually friends with his wife before we became bros….. She was my agony aunt and would listen to all my nonsensical rants and yet would give me common sense advice.  We have often laughed over her taking credit for connecting us and I can imagine her at some level being a little (just a little) jealous that I am actually writing about bros before I write about our friendship.  But she’s a sweetheart and would totally understand.

So I stand here today and realize that most men get through life with lots of buddies and maybe a bro and while I may not have many buddies but I have two totally cool bros who I would not trade for anything. So gents, take a bow for being such an integral part of my life.

If I had a hall of fame, you’d be the first on that!!!!!!!!!

Mums, kids and the other parent

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 As I sit down to write this piece, off the bat, I visualize two very distinct reactions 1) from the few guys that do read this – “dude, stop acting like a chick” and 2) from more mature people – “this boy still needs to grow up and understand life”.  Well, what the heck, it’s my blog and I write what I want.

So a small context to the entire piece – I am a divorced man on the wrong side of 30 with a 4 year old daughter, who lives with me on the weekends and vacations.  It appears that I suffer from an uncommon ailment called “insecurity” of “the concept”.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a good looking, confident and very modest man 🙂  but I just can’t seem to understand the entire society’s obsession with maa kya pyaar (a mother’s love)  when it comes to a child.  So the title of this piece and “The concept”.

Ever since I can remember – for the male species and in the last few years for me as an individual member of this species, it has been engrained into our psyche that we are the lesser parent.  Talk about the weaker sex!!!!!!  So we may be the most accomplished, confident men but when it comes to a child (no less our child)….dudes….you are never in the race of being a model parent.  It’s like you’re preparing to run the marathon and Usain Bolt has already won the sprint gold…..

Having never been at the receiving end of any discrimination I got a first real taste of this discrimination (not sure what else to call it) when my ex-wife (including her large family) would continually tell me that no matter what I did I would never understand the depth of a mother’s love for her child.  So don’t get me wrong, my ex is a good person and a fantastic mother, but it’s not really my fault that I did not carry our daughter for nine months, or give birth to her…hell knows, I guess, if it was biologically possible…I might have done it…. (note to self – google up the man who recently had a baby before making such claims in future).  Does that make me any lesser a parent that my daughter’s mother? NO SIR.

So when we do have these discussions, which re quite animated after a few drinks, informed people, then quote studies and tell me how it has been proven that both parents are equally important in nurturing a child. But (and there’s a big one here), the same people will not bat an eyelid and quote the dreaded words “but she’s the mother you know, understand that” at the first sign of my attempting to assert fatherly dominance in my daughter’s life.

This entire concept was further beaten into me during the entire legal process of the divorce. Starting from well-wishers and finally my lawyer nailing the coffin and telling me that the law would also favour the mother unless proven otherwise.  It’s like being guilty until proven innocent!!!!! Sure, my work schedule is tougher than my ex (like a lot of men), but would the courts even consider custody to the father if the professional roles were reversed… Am not a legal eagle but I think I know the answer there.

So this whole “concept” has been irritating me for a while now and by the time I have reached here, the few readers that I have, have already logged off at the nonsensical rambling of a lunatic.  But I shall continue for the pleasure of the few that persist 🙂  So what did I do next….like any reasonable tech savvy person, googled up to see if there was some godforsaken formula or something where I could input some random data and see a result that said — dude, you are actually more important than your ex – to your daughter.  Alas (for my poor male brethren out there) there was no such algorithm. Can you believe that?

And that really brought me to the deeper question – WHY AM I COMPETING FOR THE LOVE OF MY CHILD?????? That little mite has so much love to give everyone that there is enough to go around and some……

Even though I do my best to ignore the obvious, realization dawns and I finally figure out that in a way, I am a still bitter about my divorce and maybe the pangs of guilt still exist that I could not make it work.  I have always been good at anything I did, (I did mention I am very modest) and the crumbling of the marriage was the first real sign of failure in my life and maybe a big bruise to my large but fragile ego.  I somehow needed to prove to myself that I was the better parent and that my exs decision to end the marriage (there’s goes one more secret down the drain) was not the best decision for any one of us….So this entire aversion to “the concept” appears really to be an effort on my part to consciously massage my ego.  At this point, the handful of men still reading this are like “dude you just lost your right to be invited to a boys night out and the next thing you’ll tell us that Titanic is your favourite movie”….hmmmm…. never really thought of that but no….it’s just to sugary for me….. More such realizations and I could be an enlightened one very soon….

Also, it never occurred to me to check with my sisters what their views were and how was their relationship with our father.  I know, there are some things that a daughter will always confide in her mother – her first crush, her first kiss or even her boyfriend but I just wish that would be me.  In my case, it would be even more unlikely since I have been convinced since her birth that I need to buy a shotgun the day my daughter hits her teens.  I was once a young man and I know :).

So this really has nothing to do with me competing with my ex but just the love I feel for my child. Is that any less? Then why is it always beaten down on me that “she’s the mother, you have to understand”.  To top it all off, during one of my random net surfing episodes I read an article (another proven study, mind you) that confirms that boys lose more in the absence of a father figure and not girls….WOO HOO… way to go on building the confidence, buddy!!!!! Somehow such ‘empirical pieces of evidence’ have a way of finding their way to me.  Reminds me of one of the episodes of THE Simpons – where Homer ends up seeing donuts everywhere…while I do love the show, I think my parenting skills are by far better than that of Homer’s…..

So where does that really leave me now…..All I can say is that I have a great relationship with my daughter but where the relationship would be 10 years down the line is potentially all up to me and the effort I make…. Hopefully at that point in time my insecurity would have gone (to some extent) and I would grab the love she doles out with both my hands. Maybe I will even have the courage to show her this piece and watch her expression as she reads it…. What she will say I don’t know but I know what I want her to say…..

Till then I just need to reconcile to the fact that ‘the concept’ will most likely always exist and there’s not really much that one can do to fight it……kids have so much to give and we waste the time trying to fit them into our moulds and make them our pretty little trophies to brag about….

So LADIES and GENTLEMEN (hopefully atleast one man has survived through this long, winding note), welcome to the ramblings of a confused man and many more to come.

In the words of the great poets of the modern era – JOURNEY – Don’t stop believing, hold onto that feeling, streetlight people……