Lotty saw me across the crowded rail station, shouted ‘Daaaadddyyyy’ at the top of her voice and sprinted across the expansive arrivals hall.
Six feet before she reached me she left the ground and propelled herself into my waiting arms that enclosed her around into a spinning embrace.
Not a heart that witnessed this reunion could remain unmoved. The scene from the railway children loomed large.
I confess to being slightly overwhelmed at such a demonstration, a little lump was felt in my throat.
Lotty hadn’t seen me since breakfast that day.
For Lotty I occupy a space in her heart that only a father can, right then I was fantastic.
Reflecting on each of my children I see that I occupy a different place on the spectrum of parenting for each of them. It’s not static, it shifts and moves to accommodate, age, circumstance, emotions, reaction etc. At times I’m a father at times a commandant. I’m guessing that to be true for most parents.
But for my children this spectrum has a few places on it that go beyond ‘normal’. Their age, pre-care and foster care experiences have all influenced their expectations of dads and consequently of me. Their Internal Working Model and attachment strategies colliding with their idea of who I am and what I represent. Sometimes I’m perceived as the cause of all their woes, historic and present. I place myself as the rock that their pain, hate and anger crashes against before it reaches shore. I become the personification of all that they want to fight against.
But so what? There was no contract with my children, they gave no opinion on who they wanted to be their parents or even if they wanted parents. They didn’t get to read my Prospective Adopter Report or ask me how I was going to meet their specific needs. They were passed from pillar to post at the mercy of circumstance, parents, police, Social Workers, solicitors, barristers and judges.
Sometimes my children find it hard to be sons and daughters.
But I am always their Dad, regardless of how they see me I am their Dad.