Children-regardless of gender or age, long to be someone their parents are proud of, or at the very least, not ashamed of. My mom is what I consider unconditional love in my life. Since the day I met her, she has had an open heart and an open mind. She has accepted my flaws and celebrated my strengths. She is my biggest fan-she will laugh with me, cry with me, and everything in between. Essentially, she is what love always meant to me. I have never really felt that way when it comes to my dad. I have never felt like I lived up to his standards, I doubt I ever will. No amount of money, no level of education, no accomplishments can ever measure up.
I was at Jackson's basketball party last Friday night. I was talking with Hunter's dad, Azeem. He and I share similar coloring (dark hair, dark eyes). We were talking about our heritage and what made our coloring so unique. He, like most people who meet me, would never have guessed Iranian-and first generation at that-heck, I lived there. And for the first time in my life, I realized, I was remorseful to the point of ashamed that no one can ever believe I am Iranian. And it occurred to me that I have effectively erased that part of my identity.
I spent so many years of my childhood wishing it away-the times I remember wishing I was Italian or Greek or Spanish-which are what most people think I am today when they meet me. I remember getting married and being so thrilled to get rid of my maiden name (Haddad). I have lost the ability to communicate in Farsi-although I spoke it fluently when I was 3 and stopped speaking when we moved back to the US when I was 7. Those are prime years to learn to speak, read, write, etc. There is no reason I should not be able to still communicate. I have zero friends that are Iranian. I have always felt like a black sheep (along with my brother, sister and mother) when it comes to the Haddad side of the family.
My father was someone I resented most of my childhood. He was always angry-never seemed happy or even present unless we were with other people that he was putting a show on for. He was hyper critical, he seemed to really hate my mom-and the three of us as well. Looking back, I don't think he was a kids kind of guy. I think his cross cultural marriage and subsequent offspring caused him great sorrow in life. I believe he should have married an Iranian woman and had perfect Iranian children. He resented us more and more as the years went on. He would not speak Farsi to us-that is when he even spoke to us. I remember he would get so angry when we talked at the dinner table, which is odd now that I have a family-it's one of the things I enjoy the most is hearing about their day. It seemed an easy and natural transition to eliminate the Iranian part of my being. My family from Iran certainly didn't care to include me-my own father didn't even consider me part of his culture or his family.
And that brings me to today, at 41, I find it very sad that I have eradicated that part of my heritage almost completely. I am sure through the eyes of a young child, the perceptions and the reality of the situation are rather far apart. But I do know this, growing up feeling unloved and unwanted has a lot to do with the way I tucked my culture away-never to let it come out again.