I was kicking back in my recliner watching “Criminal Minds,” but not really watching you know, my thoughts were a million miles away. I was thinking about being a parent and what a huge responsibility it is. What triggered my little mind trip was an earlier visit to my daughter’s house. She just underwent a procedure using shock waves for the treatment of kidney stones on Monday and it was the first time I’d seen her. She looked a little pale and very tired, but otherwise okay. She said she was doing alright, but she looked so small and fragile. Seeing my little girl like that pained me and brought back a flood of memories of her childhood.
I am the father of three children, two boys and a girl. My daughter is my eldest. It’s hard to believe she’s thirty-five already with children of her own. It doesn’t seem possible. Thirty five years ago she quietly came into my life and transformed it forever. On that Tuesday in October 75 the world that I had known for the past twenty four years was suddenly changed, and changed for the better. My first born, my baby girl, my little angel…
Three years later my first son came into my life. My boy. He was so different from his sister, but then, they’re all different aren’t they. He was a challenge from the start, but I loved him just the same.
I remember their births, holding them in my arms for the very first time and feeling an overwhelming sense of excitement, awe, pride and fear. In my arms I held the future, young lives that through my love, guidance and example, might one day change the world. On both occasions I was so afraid. What if I screwed up? What if I couldn’t handle such an awesome responsibility? What if I didn’t have what it takes to be a good father? I wasn’t all that mature. My twenties were, for the most part, just a continuation of my teens. Twenty- seventeen and the father of two, scary times!
Well, as things turned out, I didn’t do all that bad. Oh, there were definitely some times along the way when my leadership skills and role modeling were severely lacking, when I let my anger get the best of me and released my inner demons, but even in those dark moments my love for them never waned. I have always and will continue to always love them.
Ten years later at the ripe old age of 37 my second son was born. This time, as I held him for the first time, there was no fear, there was only pride and excitement, I was definitely better prepared for my role as father. The time the five of us spent together as family, living, learning and loving and yes arguing as well, are precious to me. So many memories to treasure and hold close to our hearts. Hopefully we have all learned to let go of the unpleasant ones.
My three children are all grown up now and have their own responsibilities. They have each accomplished much in their young lives and are destined for much more. My two older children have ventured forward with gusto and determination, and found their place in the world. They are successful and busy raising children of their own. My youngest has just finished college and is ready to go out and make his mark on the world. You can’t imagine how proud I am of all of them! I have always known in my heart that they would be successful still I was afraid, afraid that they might be hurt or fail in one of their endeavors, a father’s fear for all his children.
I sit here thinking about all the things they’ve accomplished, and what they have yet to accomplish, the places they’ve been and all the places they have yet to go, the paths they’ve crossed and the paths they have yet to cross, the lives they’ve touched and the lives they have yet to touch, all those who have touched their life and those who have yet to touch their lives and have an impact on them.
Being their father is an awesome responsibility, one I haven’t always lived up to. I can’t say I always gave it my best shot, because I didn’t. There were many times I was selfish and thought only of myself. I hope and pray my children can forgive me for the mistakes I made along the way.
All I want is what all parents want for their children, I want them to be good, honest, and happy individuals who do the best that they can. I hope they can learn from my mistakes and their own as well. I want them to learn to never put their own needs and feelings ahead of those close to them, they need to learn to love selflessly. If I learned anything at all from my experience with my wife’s cancer, it is that life is much too short to get hung up on the little things that annoy us. If we can learn to see beyond the insignificant bullshit, life and love can be so much more!
I hope and pray they go forward with their quest for wisdom, and continue to “learn, love and grow in spirit.” I hope they know that I’m always here for them if they need support or someone just to talk to.
“If you’re reading this kids, know that I love you and always will.”