01 April 2012

On Men & Dads & Babies

So.

I've just returned from my first holiday since my last one. I went to Cancun with my dad, stepmom and two of my three brothers. The trip itself was -- well actually the getting there was a process worthy of a tech savvy Odysseus. But the actual vacationing was blessedly simple, with margaritas, food, sunshine and sleeping. I could regale you with every happening, and one day I might. Maybe. But something my dad said to me stuck with all the way back to San Francisco. It kept me from sleeping on the plane and pushed me to write even as I was on the shuttle back home. The last thing my dad said to me before getting into his own shuttle was something like "remember. I want a granddaughter. Make that happen."

I told him he had at least five years to go. He said "Five years, two years, one year. Make it happen."

I laughed in his face and sent him on his way. That was not the first time we'd had that conversation. It wasn't the first time my father made it clear he does not care about my happily ever after. I am but a vessel through which he can have smaller people to spoil. I've accepted that. I think it has to do with what I'll call "traditional minority breeding habits." My mom was 19 when she had me. My dad was 21. The fact that I'm 30 and childless is an anomaly not just to them, but to the rest of my family as well. Leaving home, graduating from college, establishing a career and the rest of those kinds of things are nice. But if I called my dad and reported an accidental pregnancy, he'd be quite excited. The trimmings of my being married, wooed or even in a relationship would be nice, but decidedly not necessary. I get that. Single mothers do it, and they do it well. So to my dad, if that's the way it has to be, that's the way it has to be. I get that.

This stuck with me because I'd already explained to my dad that I am not out to date right now. I'm not in the mood to be in a relationship. This year is about Danie. It's for me to be selfish and do exactly what I want to do. And don't allow yourself to think I want to do anything salacious. I want to learn more. I want personal growth. I want to laugh and have fun. I feel like 30 was a finish line and by crossing it, I have outrun insecurities and the expectations of others. It's liberating. And the idea of making plans based on the feelings of a +1 are not appealing. This is my time. I've never been happier. I tried explaining that to my dad. He literally shook his head at me. So I tried a different approach. I explained that I've been "out there." Men have been measured, and found wanting. If you're not hip to the biblical lingo, It means they're disappointing. This is not the same as "bad."

I know men with contagious ambition, who search for spiritual connections and have altruistic intentions. That is not to say they won't sleep with you, then return to their +1, or live-in, or other woman deserving of their time, if not their honesty. I know men who will open the doors, pick up the tabs and confess their purported fears. But that doesn't mean the name they gave is actually their own. Men are simply not as I want them to be. They're not even as I would accept them to be. I tried explaining this to my dad while leaving out details fathers do not want to hear from their daughters. In the end (well the end for me), my dad said it was all my fault. That every failed attempt and relationship-hood came down to me. My standards are too high, he argued, and that I have to recognize someone may not be where I want, but they may be "workable." I told him my job is to work on me, to become the best person I can, and that I'll be responsible for another when I have children. I will not put myself in the business of turning boys into men and men into adults. My foot is down. My father is disappointed. My future is decided.