21. Past perfect

Father and daughter.
3 min readFeb 3, 2021

A few days ago, in the middle of the New Year celebrations, in a reduced circle of friends due to the ongoing pandemic, you, dear daughter, told me that it is not good to look back to the past all the time nor bringing bad memories back to the present.

I am sure these words were influenced by your parents: positively by my words, since I have a tendency to reflect about the past, and I am not a very positive person (although I am an introverted optimistic); and I am quite convinced that al so by your mother’s words, since I know she is concerned that the impact of my negativity on you.

I am happy that your mother contributes to make leverage of my negativity and shares with you a more positive approach to live and to being focused in the present tense.

When you read this, a few things may have changed a lot. You will be a grown-up woman, and my deepest wish is that you are yourself, whatever you want to be, healthy and engaged with all that life offers. Fun, challenges, relationships, building networks, and also working.

While I am writing this, you are a sis years old, powerful and determined, learning about life’s complexities with a sense of surprise and sometimes worry. I can see it in you, you are very sensitive and easily spot when something is not totally right. These days, when I am struggling with a depression that runs for over 2 years, you feel that I am uncomfortable, frustrated sometimes, and more often that I wish also angry or irritated. No matter how many times I try to reassure you, you are obviously feeling the pain in me and it worries you.

I wish it was not the case, and I make my best to diminish the impact on you, often failing though. I hope what your mother and I are doing in trying to both protect you and empower you will work in the mid and long term, and you will have the tools to deal with life’s complexities, better tools than the ones your parents had.

I often give you advise. I do it because I feel it would have helped me a lot had I been given the same type of advise at your age. I am not totally convinced, I have doubts. Do I have an accurate memory of the type of advises that I was given? Maybe they advised me in the way I now wish I had been! My advise is always in the direction of reassuring you but at the same time I try to avoid lying to you out of mercy, and particularly I try to avoid sweetening too much certain aspects of human interactions. I do not want you to feel at a certain age that all the mindset your growth was based on is just a moral theoretical wishful thinking schema with none or very little connection to reality.

Sometimes I feel we manage to help you, other times I feel we are not being able to provide you with a happy, quiet, empowering childhood. As it is often the case, I guess we are doing something in the middle, which is good enough.

You are an splendid mirror, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my role and particularly by the context where I perform my parenting: far from my homeland, far from my friends, far from a professional network where I felt valued and strong, close to social values based on competitiveness and wealth, social position and an overwhelming unbalance between family and work dedication. I feel surrounded by working machines with little or very biased emotional connection to the wonderful mystery of human behavior.

I am making an effort to talk to you more from the present and letting the past lay still. I do not dismiss the past tense. It is important. I do not aim to pretend the past was perfect, or to believe that it could have been perfect under certain circumstances that did not get to occur. I honestly accept the past as it was, and I hope you will accept yours too. Even if it is not perfect, it is a great source for inspiration.

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Father and daughter.

Stay-at-home ex-pat father, following his wife work-post after work-post, struggling with parenting far from friends and family. And the son of divorced parents