I am a father. It is the single greatest calling I could ever have. I define myself by that first. Am I the best father? No. I do like to think I’m a good Father though. After years of watching my children grow and now having them start to move on, I am struck by the difficulties I used to think would be so easy. What parent doesn’t think at some point in time, that when the kids finally grow up and move on, life will be easier again? It’s just not the truth.
As I’ve watched my 3 oldest leave the house I’ve found that this is so much more difficult than having them growing up. There’s a joke that goes:
Mothers know their children’s hopes, dreams, favorite colors, style of clothes, music they listen to, favorite foods, boy or girlfriends, their schedules, and sports. They know how tall they are, they were, and most likely will be. They know how to comfort them, nurture them, teach them, guide them. They understand their children deeply.
Father’s are vaguely aware of short people living in the house.
I have to tell you a couple things. First off, I find that joke hilarious! Second, it is entirely false. I will give that my kids Momma knows more about them in ways that I do not. I also know that my influence is supposed to be different. We still share many of those responsibilities though. There’s a reason there is a Mother and a Father. I know there are some, even many, who may not agree with me and that this might possibly cause some anger. If we are honest with ourselves, we know it to be true. Mothers and Fathers have very different connections with their children even if, at times, parents are required to fill both roles.
In any case, the challenges we face when our kids are young seem very distracting, busy, messy. They can be frustrating, and embarrassing. They can ruin plans, make things you want to pass quickly take forever and make things you want to last end abruptly. Then there are the things that kids teach you that simply can’t be taught to those without children. If you have kids you understand, and if you don’t you never will understand.
The hardest part is still turning out to be watching them after they’ve flown the coop. The successes and mistakes come home to rest with you. Not in a selfish way, as in you were a good or bad parent, but in a way where your complete joy or misery is solely focused on how their decisions will affect them.
As I watch one of my children right now trying to grow up much faster than is wise, I hurt for her. It is physically painful. So many times we think “that’s an accident waiting to happen” because we can see where they are headed. To have to watch the accident actually happen though…..not fun.
I love my kids more than anyone or anything in this life! Everything I do is for them and their future. I look around and know I need little to live on, even prefer it that way. I use the rest to try and structure something that I may leave to them so that their lives may be easier than my own. Is that not what we are supposed to do?
In the end, loving them is all we can really do. Hopefully, they will remember they have a family that loves them if ever they fall too far. A family that is ready to lift them back up, help them brush themselves off, and support them while they start again. Just so happens that waiting for that time really, really sucks!
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts here. If you are a parent, there are no doubts that you can understand and relate. I pray that each family will find it’s way. I pray that my daughter will find hers.