Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Unconditional love.


Guess what, guys. Another year flew past. We all got older. 

And one day, should we live this long, we will be so old that maybe our children would visit us in a retirement home. Some of you, who are proper traditional Azeri, would maybe be living somewhere with your children, or somewhere nearby, looked after by them. But for some,old age mean loneliness. 

I was visiting a friend, who had recently separated from his wife, watching him play with his children who came to stay during the holidays.' Isn’t this great?|" a mutual acquaintance pointed out to me, as we sipped coffee and smoked, thoughtfully watching them chase each other on the beach. "I am so pleased for him", he added, "that the ex allowed the kids to come and stay! It doesn’t always happen".

Very true, I thought. Because, as we get older, many marriages collapse. But not every case is as civilised as the one we were discussing. 

I find it shocking, I told my acquaintance, that so often men seem to simply forget their kids as they decide to separate from the wives. It is understandable that people fall out of love. It is also understandable that they might decide to split up. But how do they emotionally separate from their children? Surely, that should be impossible?

 And yet, so many of my friends report otherwise.

I have to say I feel a little guilty myself for insisting that my mother stayed with my father many years ago, when she first realised it was time to split up. I still remember him taking me in a separate room to say goodbye, pulling me into a strong hug, crying. One might say, manipulating the situation a little? using me as a tool to influence my mother. And boy, did it work! I AM NEVER HAVING ANOTHER DADDY! I cried hysterically, you are NOT bringing anyone else to live here with us! 

Now, looking back, I know I was wrong. She was young and beautiful, and the marriage was going to end anyway, as it did many years later. My tantrums only prolonged the agony. (She should have not listened to me, she should have been strong right there and then, when she knew the end was inevitable). But hey, I was little and I adored my dad. And we all try to manipulate the others. From the moment we are born and till we die.

When my parents did eventually separate though, and until the very end when my father passed away, he and I remained what we had always been- a father and a daughter. Yes, he lived separately, but we never loved each other any less for it. I never felt any less loved by him just because his relationship with my mother changed. My mother didn’t use me against him, and neither did he. 

And perhaps that is why I simply cannot get it. The financial battles, the arguments over alimony, the lack of any interest in their children’s lives after divorce? How is that possible to fall out of love with your own children? 

Out of quite a number of marriages that I know of that broke down, I can safely say that only two fathers remained properly involved with the lives of their kids. They see them as often as they can, they don’t fight over money, they don’t argue over school fees, they continue being what they had been before- fathers. 

And this is not about their responsibilities. Whenever I talk to anyone about this, this is the most overused word. ‘But they have a responsibility to look after their kids!’ women cry in outrage. 

Fuck responsibility. I don’t think anyone should be doing anything in this life because of responsibility. To me, the word is depressing. I hate it almost as much as the word commitment. It implies you are forced to be doing something simply because you have to. Fathers should want to look after their children because they love them. Even if they stopped loving their mother. 

That day, my new acquaintance and I ended up having quite a philosophical discussion about it all- families, children, marriages, the old age…. 'My sister works in a home for very old people', he said. "And, you will not believe how often there is nobody to call when some of those old people die. And you will not believe how many of old lonely men express their regrets for abandoning their children when they were young."

Well, I said. You never really know. There are plenty of cases in Baku of abandoned old babushkas, whose children moved away and left them behind without any contact, any financial support, any…anything. Even if you sacrifice your own selfish interests, and stick around all your life supporting your kids, you might still be forgotten in that geriatric state without as much as a Christmas card. There are no guarantees, of course, that your kids will care about you when you are old. Just like there are no guarantees that your spouse will always be there, either. Life, of course, is unpredictable that way. The only thing that should be guaranteed, is your unconditional love for your children, regardless, no matter what. 

1 comment:

  1. This post of yours really moved me: so true, so hard.