Friday, September 23, 2011
When I was a kid, every year on my birthday my mom would make me promise that I wouldn't have another birthday for an entire year. First I thought she was trying to be funny. Later, I thought she was nuts. Now I get it.
I was growing up way too fast.
Those very thoughts were going through my mind as my just-yesterday-he-was-a-baby son and I walked up to his new school for the first day of kindergarten. It seems like only moments since this little newborn was nestled into his sleep-deprived father's arms. Today, we were starting school.
As we marched toward the covered play area to scan the class lists, I felt a little hand slip inside mine and give me a squeeze. As the cacophany of pre-pubescent voices grew louder, the little hand squeezed tighter. Eventually, we found his name on the list, stood in the appropriate line, and awaited his teacher to usher us into the class room.
Despite the cliche moment which was charged with such emotion, calmness prevailed.
Until it was time to let go.
As Connor's new teacher guided us to the classroom, the tears began to well up...in my eyes. As we reached the doorway to his latest life's adventure, that same little hand slipped out of mine, reached around my neck for a big hug, and then was gone.
As much as anything, parenthood is successive stages of letting go: the independence that comes with first steps, the day you discover you are no longer needed to give pushes on the swings, the first day of school.
I'm convinced the best parents are the ones who can let go--who celebrate the moments of growth and independence as their child comes of age.
I'm just not so sure I fit into that category yet.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
“I guess I’ll have to eat his dessert” I teased.
I turned to carry him up the stairs, and whispered in his ear, “I love being your daddy.”
“Oh, momma, I think he might be waking up,” I said. At which point he went limp again.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I am a full believer that the best thing that couples can do for their kids is to keep their own relationship healthy and strong. Not only does it help maintain a loving and secure environment in which the kids can thrive, it sets the example for what they should expect from a healthy relationship when they reach adulthood.
In no means, however, is this lament of “always putting the kids first” uniquely uttered by fathers.
I should know. I'm guilty of doing it with my own kids.
I do it for two main reasons. First, I adore being a father more than just about anything in the world. Loving them is as easy as falling off a truck. Second, it’s much simpler when there is spousal stress to spend time with two little boys who can find no fault with you than with a partner who has grounds to find many.
I'm guilty not so much in terms of being unable to let the kids out of my sight, or dropping everything on the spot to attend to every whim: I do it more on an emotional level. My kids often get the lion’s share of my love, patience and attention in the day and frankly, my wife deserves better.
Now, I am not going to fall into that destructive, tired old stereotype of long-suffering-yet-patient-wife-tolerates-inept-yet-well-meaning husband. That crap still gets played time and time again as a bad punch line and does nothing but widen some of the “traditional” gender role divides which can cause a relationship and a family a great deal of strain.
I will say, however, that my wife is remarkably patient. She has seemingly limitless patience with our children and she has demonstrated the patience of Job with me. She has shown unwavering faith in me and my business, not only when others must have questioned my sanity, but even when my pursuit of it threatened the financial well being of our family.
She has loved me unconditionally through two major bouts of depression and was somehow capable of finding something loveable in me when I was near-useless as a husband. She loved me when I was at my most vulnerable and naked, and for that, I will never have the words to express my gratitude.
She loves me even when I succumb to my own personal albatross -- verbally lashing out at those I love when I perceive their comments reflect a disappointment in me. It is an ugly side of me which has long outstripped its use, but can still return in the form of a sharp tongue and a dismissive tone. It strikes with lightening speed and then disappears, leaving me with a giant mess and an enormous sense of remorse for having hurt my best friend.
But my wife also brings out the best in me. She never fails to encourage me to be my best, simply by tell me what an amazing father I am. She inspires my sense of integrity by applauding rather than cringing when I stand up in very public ways to rail against injustice. And her laughter, and even her groans (here I will admit to her putting up with me with gentle, good humour) at my sense of humour and out-and-out silliness remind me that life should be filled with joy and gratitude.
On this Valentine’s Day, I want the world to know what an amazing woman I’ve married. She has her faults as I have mine, and at times our first wedding dance to “Lost Together” by Blue Rodeo has seemed more like prophecy than love song. But marrying her was still the best thing I’ve ever done.
I know my sons think so, too.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Sorry for my lack of regular posts of late. I am now balancing solo at home parenting (as my wife has gone back to work) with a working dad project for my company “Bettermen Solutions.” At any rate, I know holidays can be very trying, but I hope everyone had a happy one. As some wise person once said, “If you think you are enlightened, try visiting your family.”
It is worth mentioning that Connor’s greatest wish this season was for a Wii. The immensity of his desire had little to do with the monetary value and everything to do with fun. In his mind a Wii cost the same as a chocolate bar, so holding this Wii so dear was solely based on Connor’s love of playing it this past summer with his older cousins. My wife and I have both wanted to put off video games for as long as possible, but saw some merit in having an indoor sweat inducing activity on a nasty winter’s day. We finally agreed and the grandparents generously offered to chip in for one from Santa.
So as we were getting into bed for once upon a time, I started to make up a story. It involved one excited little boy writing a long list of things he wanted from Santa for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, a sound asleep Connor was awakened by a tap on the window. It was St. Nick, and he wanted to take Connor on a little adventure.
“Will you come with me?” Santa asked.
"I have to ask my mom and dad first,” my son replied (no fears that he’ll ever be abducted by a man in a Santa Claus outfit!)
So off they went. Santa whisked Connor up into the sky, drawn by his familiar reindeer with snow whistling all around. At one point, Santa pulled up to a broken down little home and asked Connor to peek inside. Connor saw a little boy, asleep, with no presents, or even a Christmas tree. At that moment, Santa pulled a Darth Vader light saber out of his bag.
“Connor,” I began to ask in Santa’s voice, “What should I do with this light saber?”