The children are going back to school after a three week break and they are both nervous about it.
Nervous for different reasons, but nervous nonetheless.
I spent time with them separately listening to them tell me about their concerns and wondering what I could do to ease their concerns.
Did my best to make them feel calmer and more comfortable and then wandered into the other room where I wondered what the source of all this anxiety is.
It is hard not to ask myself if I am to blame in any way, hard not to wonder if what sort of responsibility I Â have here for this.
Some of what they said sounded familiar to me and I understood where it comes from because it is not very different from what I might say.
But some of it falls under the purview of middle schoolÂ magicÂ and girl drama. Some of it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the kids going through the same sort of stuff we all do growing up.
What Kind Of Father Are You?
It is a question I ask myself from time to time.
What kind of father are you?
Are you the kind you want to be?
Are you the guy who has the answers and makes thing happen for his family or are you some kind of fool who does a bull in the china shop act with parenting.
Or are you a combination of all of the above?
The truth is my answer varies from time to time. There are days when I know I am the father I have always wanted to be and I feel like I am not just on my game, I own it.
Those days are joined by the exact opposite where I wonder how I could be such an idiot. The moments where I look at the things I have done and feel guilty because I feel like I just haven’t been the guy I should be for the kids.
Moments where I look in the mirror and wonder when I turned into this guy who I hardly recognize. The guy I expect to see didn’t have these moments of doubt or worry.
He always knew that he’d figure it all out. Dude had some pithy statement to share, some insightful quote and the resume to prove he was all he thought he was.
Except the current incarnation is a bit less certain because life hit him a few times. Because even though I picked myself up and dusted myself off I wondered about how some things would impact the children.
It Is Normal
Took a while before I realized all of this is normal and that my own parents had similar concerns. Took a while before I stopped thinking about my childhood as being so very different because it was me it happened to and not to my kids.
Granted some things are different for my kids than they were for me. Some things are better and some things are worse but life isn’t built in a way that allows us to compare in the sort of manner many of us would like.
It would be great to have this check off list and to see how 2015 compares to 1985 in a meaningful way but it is not really something I can do.
Sometimes my daughter tries to tease me about life in the ’70s and ’80s because it was so long ago but it doesn’t bother me.
One day her kids will tease her about how old she is. One day she’ll be like me and have her own stories.
I was in kindergarten when Vietnam ended. I was in sixth grade when President Reagan was shot and in eleventh when the Challenger exploded.
My son built block towers and knocked them down while I watched the videos of the Twin Towers coming down.
We all end up with stories about major events that affect millions and stories about small moments that only affect a few.
Fear and Uncertainty
That quote about fear resonates with me. It is something I appreciate because the way I like to handle fear is to try and punch it in the mouth.
What bothers me most is uncertainty. It is that feeling that something is out there in the dark, waiting for me. That feeling that I can’t see it but it is close enough to get me.
That drives me crazy.
I want to see it and take it on. I might win, I might lose but at least I am doing something.
But the thing is I am aÂ grown up and my kids aren’t.
Life experience has taught me that I have a perfect record for surviving bad days and that if I fail a test it is not the end of the world. It has taught me that I can be fired from a job or jobs and that I will find a new job.
What I know from life experience is that I will handle whatever comes and what hurts is knowing I can’t just give my children that confidence.
They have to live through the good and the bad and figure it out for themselves.
What kind of father am I?
Well tonight I am the kind who feels badly that he can’t do more to help his kids through some of these moments but feels pretty good about his handle on this parenting thing.
Tomorrow it might be different, but for today it is pretty good.
My Inner Chick January 15, 2015 at 6:57 pm
Jack, I get this post. Every. Single. Word. xx
The JackB January 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm
Thanks. It’s so much fun and so much work, but worth it.
Sandy Ramsey January 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm
What a fantastic post! I could have written most of these words from a mother’s point of view. I get up with the best of intentions every day and some days I go to bed feeling like a superhero. Other days I’m just glad we all made it through alive. You’re doing the best you can as are most of us. I’m willing to bet your kids think you’re doing a pretty good job.
The JackB January 13, 2015 at 8:24 pm
@motherofimperfection:disqus Thank you. You are right, we wake up and do our best to take care of the kids as best we can. It is hard and sometimes it is a grind but it has many more highlights than low and that is the difference.
Larry January 12, 2015 at 5:59 pm
Wanting to do more for your kids is an okay way to be. It’s natural.
It amazes me that they get such a long break.
The JackB January 13, 2015 at 8:23 pm
@Lardavbern:disqus Oh man that break was way too long. It was great for them, but for me…not so much. Just wasn’t enough time to spend time with them in between all I had to do.
Janine Huldie January 12, 2015 at 11:25 am
I love how you ended this, because as a mother, I have learned from one day to the next I never know what the day will bring in parenting my own girls. All we can do it try our best and think when life throws us curveballs with parenting, it is how we handle it that counts in the end. And I do think from what I read, you are a great father indeed 😉
The JackB January 12, 2015 at 5:43 pm
@JanineHuldie:disqus I am like every other parent out there, just trying to roll with the punches and do what I can to help the kids make smart decisions. I think they spend a lot of time watching how we act and react to our own stuff and that helps inform how they respond.
Janie Emaus January 12, 2015 at 8:31 am
It sounds to me like you are a terrific father.
The JackB January 12, 2015 at 5:04 pm
@JanineHuldie:disqus Thank you. I try hard, make my share of mistakes.
Gary Mathews January 12, 2015 at 6:55 am
I believe any man that takes an active role in his childrens life is a good father sometimes it takes humor to make them understand, sometimes an iron first, sometimes just lending an ear. I know this varies depending on the kids age and the situation, after what I had to go through to stay in my daughter’s life I take none of this for granted and never will. Balancing all these different emotions though is what makes us all good fathers!
The JackB January 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm
@disqus_9QhPxUcvr0:disqus I have never understood how some people aren’t interested in being active participants in their children’s lives. It is so freaking hard sometimes but there is so much…joy.
Just worth it from every end.
Julie January 12, 2015 at 3:50 am
While I know we do the best we can, and generally it is good enough, I appreciated reading this today after the day we had yesterday.
The JackB January 12, 2015 at 4:54 pm
@JulieAClearSign:disqus There are always those days aren’t there.
Irene January 12, 2015 at 12:53 am
Lucky kids! 🙂
The JackB January 12, 2015 at 4:53 pm
@ionfooddrinklife:disqus I am the lucky one.