I Could Be a Better Father Part II
Could I be a better father? Of course I can.
Go back almost 2.5 years and read this post with me and I’ll tell you some stories about how far we have come. I’ll tell you that when I left L.A. for Texas I had a mental list in my head of things that I wanted to achieve.
A list of action items, short term goals that I was determined to hit in large part because I was scared about what would happen if I didn’t. Scared about what the impact would be on our lives and fairly certain I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror.
Turns out I didn’t have to worry about that because everything on that list has a check mark next to it. Every damn line item was crossed off because I couldn’t stomach the idea of not being able to look my kids in the eyes.
I am proud of that and every time I have a rough moment I go back to it and remind myself that small victories are the foundation of the big ones.
And I remind myself that I didn’t do it by myself or by being the smartest guy in the room. Didn’t do it because I was the luckiest either. Made it happen primarily because every time I got knocked down I got back up. Because every time I got punched in the mouth I spit out a tooth and moved forward.
One Step At A Time
This isn’t supposed to be the sort of rah rah post where I tell you how good a dad I am or humble brag. It is not one of those things where I secretly hope you congratulate me because you don’t know the details about what happened and I am not crossing that line tonight.
No, this is one of those posts where one day my kids will get to hear my voice and remember that it wasn’t always easy for me.Â There Is No Manual For Raising Teenage BoysÂ but you don’t necessarily want or need one for the good and the hard things in life.
Because the best way to learn is by doing. Sometimes it is the hardest way because you don’t figure out how hot the stove is until you touch it but once you do you don’t forget.
I want my kids to know and to remember one step at a time may feel slow but that doesn’t mean it is not steady or that we aren’t making progress. Sometimes one step at a time is the best way to go because it is how you prevent from accidentally falling onto the stove and that is always worth avoiding.
One step at a time is how we got to the place we are standing at now and it is why I am comfortable looking into the mirror to ask myself what I need to do to become a better father.
Notice the distinction between want and need. Want is simple. Want is easy.
I want more money because it will provide me with the opportunity to take more trips with the children. More trips equals more experiences and that is the kind of stuff I want to accumulate with them.
Would it be nice to have a bigger house? Sure.
Would it be nice to have a better car? Sure.
It would be nice to have all those things and more but it is the experiences that make the moments that lead to the funny stories and I want more of those.
Time Is Fleeting
When my wife was pregnant with our oldest I learned how fast time went because every freaking old person around told me that I wouldn’t believe how fast it all went.
It drove me crazy listening to it in part because I had no foundation to relate to but mostly because I wanted to enjoy whatever time I had and I felt like that was taking away from it.
What I didn’t know was how right they were.
Ten years ago I wandered around the house late at night praying that my father would be well enough to have surgery and that he would survive and meet the grandchild that was floating around inside my wife’s belly.
Had no idea if I was going to have another son or a daughter and I didn’t care. I just wanted a healthy kid and grandfather to hand them off to.
Ten years later that grand daughter has a long list of things she wants, needs and loves to tell me what my responsibilities are. Ten years later she has grown from being a baby girl with an enormous amount of hair, cute button nose and freckles into a holy terror..
Ok, I am kidding, she is not a holy terror, at least not most of the time. Just don’t ask her brother and definitely don’t tell him that I don’t think my middle sister and I really stopped fighting until she was around 21.
Don’t know why that was, it just happened. We got along pretty well, but when we didn’t, well it is good she is a girl because I would have killed a brother for the crap she pulled.
But those moments, the good and the bad are all part of my memories and part of what made me who I am. Those memories are ones I cherish and that is part of why I want my kids to have their own set too.
It feels a bit surreal to look back and see how much has happened. We’re almost completely finished with elementary school and in a year I’ll be the father of a high school student.
Excuse me while I say fuck, shit and a bunch of other stuff. Ya know all that crap about how fast it goes and how I remember my dad before heÂ got old.
My kids call me old now and I laugh, they have no idea but I can smell the embers of the fire of the fire that I’ll burn one day when I am a much older man than I am now.
Used to be that I would say that with a smirk because it was so far off I couldn’t see it and yet now, it is not quite the same. Still far away, still very far and yet I know how time can be like an accordion and how quickly the air can be compressed.
I don’t have time to say I could. I need to figure out how to do those things now and I need to remember that I am getting it done.
What about you?
Larry July 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm
What’s wrong with rah rah? You strove to make improvements and you did. That’s worth celebrating.
So, you want to continue to improve? That’s the way it should be.
I looked at my 7 year old as he was wandering around the house being his usual wacky self. I was thinking someday he’ll be a man and he won’t remember these details and I hope like heck I do. I have to pay attention more.
Jack July 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm
I suppose you are right. Sometimes I am my own harshest critic.