I don’t have a lot of memories of growing up (I’m not sure why, day to day stuff just seems to fade out of my mind really quickly!) so while I remember that I used to love chattering away to my Dad as a kid, I don’t remember a huge amount of those conversations as being ‘deep and meaningful’. My dad was always a true Englishman – you know, the ‘just soldier on’ sort! So there is a specific conversation from my early adulthood that was so out of ‘the norm’ that it still sits with me 15 years later…
I had been living in Sydney for about 18 months when my dad and his partner (now wife) came out to visit for the first time. Dad and I were visiting a ‘greasy spoon’ breakfast cafe near Darling Harbour, the sun was shining and life was good. Dad knew I had been through a lot of ups and downs in relationships over the previous 2 years but we hadn’t fully delved into that stuff, I always said things were ‘fine’.
As we were eating breakfast Dad said, so how are you? Yeah Dad I’m good, loving Sydney, moving to Brisbane soon etc etc. I said this all very chirpily and expected we’d move on as usual, but then he put down his fork, looked at me and said slowly ‘No, how are you really?’
I still remember that moment. I stopped eating, took a deep breath and then talked properly about how I felt, what was going on for me and I fully connected with my Dad. We talked about a heap of stuff, including his emotions around parenthood and raising me as a young child plus a whole heap of stuff I probably no longer remember 😆 But what I do recall was that safe feeling of my Dad holding space for me and my feelings.
I thought about that moment a lot afterwards and realized the work my Dad had obviously put in on himself to become so much more emotionally available and I give full credit to his wife who told him he had to learn to communicate or move on! But thinking back on it now makes me realize all the potential moments of connection we’re skipping in our relationships every day when our standard response to ‘I’m fine, busy, how are you?’ is ‘yeah I’m good blah blah’ when it could be ‘ok, but how are you really?’
So let’s take some time today to hold space for our loved ones and get those conversations going.. you never know, it could be a conversation that lives in someone’s memory for the next couple of decades 💕
PS love you Dad xx