This Too Shall Pass- The Guilty Father

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“You can’t reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.”
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

That quote doesn’t really belong here. It is intended for a different post on a different blog for a man leading a different life than I am. That man isn’t imitating Atlas. He doesn’t spend any time wondering if he is doing the right thing because he has’t any responsibilities.

Unfortunately I am not that man any longer and I am indeed expending copious amounts of energy regarding thoughts, actions and deeds. That is because at the moment I am the guilty father who is concerned that his children are having a harder time because of his actions.

I tell them not to worry and this this too shall pass but they don’t quite accept that to be truth. Who can blame them. They are mine and we are a cautious lot who ask questions about many things. But I have the advantage of age and life experience that I use to see through the fog, brush and brambles.

It is part of how I know that the crap that we are working through won’t be around forever. But these children of mine don’t have that life experience. They haven’t lived as I have and as a result their hearts ache and their minds work overtime with wonder about what is going to happen.

We do our best to sit them down and assure them that the fundamentals are covered. They have food, clothing and shelter and they are well loved. They have so much love it is immeasurable but were it possible to gauge it would no doubt make the ocean look like a puddle.

So I find myself reading an old post called Guilt and find pieces of it calling out to me.

I convince myself that the good intentions gone wrong are not worthy of recognition and that the guilt is unnecessary, a burden best left behind. But some things are easier said than done and I find myself carrying a load that isn’t worth the worry or work. Or so I tell myself and then I look in the mirror and think in silence that it is one thing to fool others and another to fool ourselves.

So I carry the failures of the past and do my best to learn from them. I work hard to accept that some things are outside of my control and that I must relax and be patient. It is not easy and sometimes I feel bitter. There are silent screams that are left untended to. They lay in a garden gone fallow where insecurity and doubt are allowed to fester. Untapped potential is no different than unfulfilled potential. Life lived as what could have been is no better than what might never have happened.

Doubt and distrust lead to disorder. The dun and the din are as restless as the yin and the yang. Meaningless gibberish surrounded by the cling and the clang of the bell that reminds me that I can never recapture the time that has been lost.

There are two choices to be had, do or do not. Yoda was right and so I am filled with more guilt by what I haven’t done than satisfaction with what I have. The time of doubt and uncertainty is at hand and the choice is given to me. Let guilt win or fight back. So I choose to fight because that is what I do best. I fight

I fight and I fight and I fight some more. My preference is to lay down my sword and use diplomatic means but sometimes that is not an option. There is no doubt in my mind that this moment in time will pass and that one day we will all look back upon it but my job is to protect them. My job is to help them through these moments and if I could I wrap them up in bubble wrap and they wouldn’t suffer, nick, scrapes or bruises.

However, I can’t do that. In part because it is not possible and in part because my job is to teach them how to deal with life. I won’t be the father of children who can’t deal with adversity. It is unacceptable and it won’t happen.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel badly or that I don’t feel every nick, scrape and bruise they receive. I remind myself that it is not all my fault. This is part of the reason that I am a dad blogger. It is to record these thoughts so that one day they can see that dad dealt with a few things and got through them. And it is to record these thoughts so that I can see more clearly what is happening.

Writing is cathartic and it provides clarity- but it still doesn’t help us travel to the future so I guess we are going to have to keep on walking through this forest until we reach the end.

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13 Comments

  1. Bruce Sallan February 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

    YOU are not alone, JB and I know you know that…reach out when you need to IRL…

  2. Jack February 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Mark,

    I have learned how to give as good as I get. 😉 Got to be determined in life- it is the only way to get around, through and over some of the challenges.

  3. Mark February 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Man, I love the determination in these words.

    I bet you’ve developed a hell of a right-cross by now, eh Jack?

    Your kids are lucky to have a dad like you.

    Cheers to slaying giants!

  4. Craig McBreen February 20, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Hi Jack,

    Oh man, parenting brings out so many emotions and guilt is a big one. All I can say is these feelings are just part of being a father. I can’t count how many times I’ve regretted a decision, which might seem like a small matter to some people, but wasn’t in my mind.

    I’ve learned to deal with these feelings over the years (my oldest is now 18!) I agree with the two ladies above, because they’re smart like that and you are being too hard on yourself, but like you, I feel much better after a good writing session.

    Hope you have a good day, Sir.

    • Jack February 20, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Hi Craig,

      The challenge is trying to see clearly during the the “harder” moments.

      Intellectually speaking I feel pretty good and am confident that things will work out, but there is that other side that has a harder time accepting that.

  5. Harleena Singh February 20, 2012 at 5:33 am

    I agree with Hajra there Jack!

    You are doing your best I am sure as a father, and all that’s in your hands for your kids.

    We as parents keep striving to make the lives of our kids better than what we had, at least that’s the way I look at things. But yes, there are times when I also feel that is what I am doing the right thing, or the right way, or isn’t there something missing or more I ought to do?

    I guess those are natural feelings for parents, but then- we do try our utmost to give them the very basics, and it certainly is much more than what we got when we were their age- isn’t it?

    So, don’t take things to harshly upon yourself. What you are feeling is very natural for a parent to feel- though sometimes 🙂

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jack February 20, 2012 at 11:06 am

      Hi Harleena,

      You are right, these are natural feelings. But sometimes it is really hard to just let go and accept that things are one way or another.

      I suppose we don’t have much choice in the matter, but I wish it were otherwise.

  6. Hajra February 20, 2012 at 1:06 am

    I just feel you are being harsh on yourself. Just that you feel you are not doing enough is good reason to believe that you are trying. And no one is perfect. Really, we all make mistakes and that is okay as long as we keep working for the better!

    Go easy on yourself! And you will be just fine!

    Writing is cathartic definitely!

    • Jack February 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

      Hi Hajra,

      Well, I am always hard on myself. Just part of who I am.

      I agree that no one is perfect but there are times where it is easier to forgive than others.

  7. Hajra February 20, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I just feel you are being harsh on yourself. Just that you feel you are not doing enough is good reason to believe that you are trying. And no one is perfect. Really, we all make mistakes and that is okay as long as we keep working for the better!

    Go easy on yourself!

  8. Stan Faryna February 20, 2012 at 12:50 am

    “They have so much love it is immeasurable but were it possible to gauge it would no doubt make the ocean look like a puddle.”

    Beautiful, Jack. I know that feeling. But I wish, every day, it was a lot more than a feeling.

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