…Father states that his primary satisfaction in the family derives from his very positive 1:1 with Matt but is concerned that there is nothing much going on with the other 3 children and that they don’t need him around. He states that Matt takes up most of his time and that he is concerned that the other children are angry with him much of the time. Father describes himself as being somewhat chronically depressed and says that he losses his temper. He feels that his personality clashes with Luke who is also somewhat volatile. This description is tempered in Mark’s case because they have a good relationship because Mark is a builder and a worker and Mark can find ways of getting praise and esteem from father by doing the building and working….
This is a rather lengthy paragraph that opens and closes describing the cultural gender roles and how my family fits into them. Or should I say doesn’t fit into them. I ended up cutting half of the paragraph out.
Apparently, my family did nothing by the books. But hey, we all turned out okay.
The cut out part of the paragraph talks about my dad cutting back hours at work while my mom takes on more hours. A couple of years after this was written, the roles reverse again. My dad works full-time while my mom takes a leave of absence from work to home school us. Then the roles reverse again. My childhood ends with my mom working full-time and my dad working part-time which is how things ended up staying.
Matt’s care did take up all of my parents time. He had a lot of tactile sensitivities. Just an example of one, he could not stand to have his teeth brushed. He could only tolerate having one fourth of his teeth cleaned by the dentist at a time. Sometimes even that required sedation. There was a lot of conflict with Matt regarding bedtime teeth brushing. Many nights he would scream and flail at my parents attempts to brush his teeth. Eventually, his teeth rotted out and needed replacing.
I think, because we were all so close in age (4 kids within 5 years), that we felt angry often because Matt got all of the attention. I was angry with my dad almost all of the time and sometimes at my mom as well. I think my mom did the best that she could. I think that my dad could’ve tried harder.
I never had any 1:1 time with my dad as a child. He did on occasion drop me off or pick me up from places. We never did anything alone together. Although I don’t remember many of my friends having quality time with their dads back in the 1980’s. If my dad said that his 1:1 time with Matt was positive, then it was. My dad has always been painfully honest about everything, even his faults.
I would describe my dad as reactive. He did lose his temper a lot. He didn’t like the noise, commotion, and chaos a large family brought. He had no patience for it. My dad grew up as an only child. My mom grew up with 7 siblings with six of them being younger. The chaos didn’t seem to phase her as much. I can totally relate.
It is a great to look back and think about my childhood not just from the perspective of a child, but as a parent. Even my youngest child is older than I was at the time this was written. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. A lot of things have changed, yet some things will always remain the same.