Dear Fiona: I’m Sorry

Dear Fiona,

I wrote in my last letter about what it means to me that you’re my daughter, and my hopes and intentions for our relationship as we both continue to grow and mature throughout our lives.

I also wrote that, sometimes, I will fail to live up to my hopes for what it means to be your dad.

This is particularly meaningful right now, because I feel like I’ve been failing a lot lately.

You see, I’m tired. Our lives have so much going on right now: We’ve moved recently, we’re in the midst of holiday season with all the busy-ness that normally entails, and we just got back from a last-minute, whirlwind trip halfway across the country.

It has all of us on edge – particularly you and Tristan, as the two smallest members of the family, whose minds and bodies are least well-equipped to handle the stresses we’ve been under lately.

And for that, I’m sorry.

But more than that, I’m sorry for the fact that, as the adult in our relationship, I haven’t handled my own mind and body better than I have. I’m supposed to be the one who can handle this sort of stuff. I’m supposed to be the one who can deal with the stress, and can shield you from at least some of the effects of it because I’m able to deal with what you cannot.

And of course, there are times when I’ve done exactly that. But there are too many times – particularly in the past couple of weeks – when I haven’t. When it’s 3am and you’ve been awake for an hour kicking me on one side, and your brother has come over and started crying and needing something from me on the other side, and all I can think about is the fact that I have to be up and getting for work in a couple of hours . . . there are times when I don’t hold myself together all that well. So help me, even though I know in my mind and in my heart that you’re just lying there trying to tell me you need me in the only way you can, there are times when I get angry. At you, at Tristan, at your mom for not “doing something” that my hazy, half-awake, sleep-deprived brain has convinced me she should be doing . . . but most of all, at myself.

Because I don’t want to hurt you. Ever. But sometimes I do. Sometimes I have, and I know sometime I will again.

And when that happens, I want to always be vulnerable enough to let you know that I know I’ve screwed up. Some parents ascribe to the philosophy that their kids can never see their imperfections . . . can never know that they don’t have it all together and have All The Right Answers.

I’m not that kind of parent. I couldn’t pull off being that kind of parent even if I wanted to . . . which I don’t. I will screw up. And you will know it. And when you’re old enough, like your brother already does sometimes, you will call me on it.

Thank you in advance for that.

As for this time in our lives, I tell myself that we’ll get past this. I tell myself that someday you and your brother will sleep, and on that day, I will too. I’m not sure I believe that part, but the other thing I tell myself . . . the part I honestly, truly believe in the deepest parts of my soul . . . is that it’s worth it. Those moments when I do not fail – moments when I’m able to successfully soothe my own mind and meet your needs, even when every neuron in my brain is rebelling, are the moments I treasure most. Those moments when you’re wide awake long after you should be sleeping, and you’re lying there in my arms, staring up at me as I rock you back to sleep . . . those are the moments that melt my heart.

I love you so much, and even though I don’t demonstrate it as well as I’d like at times, I’m so incredibly happy that out of all the men on this planet, God picked me to be your daddy.


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