“Parenthood remains the greatest single preserve of the amateur.” Alvin Toffler
My daughter is everything to me. Smudge is now ten years old. Being her father has brought meaning to my life. Parenthood is a certain role in an uncertain universe. One of the most wonderful things about my recovery is the transformation of our relationship.
We have always been very close but my behaviour in my descent into heavy addiction scared her at times, or should I say often. Towards the end she did not want to be left alone with me, whenever my wife did try to get out for an evening she would be tearfully begged not to go; once when she was on a day out in London with her mother, she didn’t even want to come home. The fear of not knowing what state they would find me in was becoming ingrained in both of them. I was never violent but I was an isolated, angry drunk.
It has taken months for her to believe in my recovery but now we are thick as thieves. My wife calls us Little and Large. As I wasn’t working for some months we have spent glorious, priceless time together. To my delight, she now demands that I get her up and ready for school every morning and, when works allows, I drive her there. This means we begin most days in each other’s company. She greets each day brimming with ideas and words. What an inspiration.
One of our favourite activities is driving listening to loud music. Her taste in music is developing and is very individual for a ten year old. Not for her songs from Frozen or One Direction. Her favourite style of music is heavy rock. Her favourite band is Nirvana. Their album ‘Nevermind’ is now deeply embedded into all of our brains. I am filled with pride and happiness whenever she asks me to put on ‘The Only Ones’ or another of my favourite bands. I am bereft of words to express my emotions as I recognised the joy of understanding in her eyes when she taught herself to play ‘Smoke on the Water’ on the violin after I had showed it to her on the guitar. She is currently proud of me playing in a band and being cool but I am sure that when she reaches her teenage years this will become a total embarrassment.
Throughout my recovery I have been reading the Harry Potter books to her at bedtime. It has taken us over a year but we finished them last month, with me reading the last book ever slower, as I didn’t want it to end. We have now moved on to ‘The Hobbit’ and we have other titles lined up which will give vent to my penchant for performing all the voices. I now hold on to these precious moments. I know them to be finite and irreplaceable.
I see so much of her mother in her. Her kindness, wilfulness, tolerance, vivacity, beauty, her love of words and her easy charm but I can also see a lack of discipline, nonconformity, her very personal taste in music and her talent for playing it which reminds me of me. Friends have told my wife and I that she physically resembles both of us; a perfect mix of her mother and me.
My life is written around her timetable. School runs, Brownies, drama and music lessons and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What I love most is our conversations; hearing her ideas and opinions form. All parents have dreams and fears for their children’s futures but, although I never want her to grow up, I am impatient to enjoy watching her become the astonishing woman she will blossom into. I am indescribably grateful for her growing trust. I adore being her father. In her words, she “turns my heart to gold.”