Thursday, June 13, 2013
An Unexpected Fatherhood
“Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” - G.K. Chesterton
Something big is coming. I can't talk about "it" just yet, because we need to get past a certain date before it can be truly public knowledge.
This something "big" - I have been wondering if it is the right decision for us lately. I suppose I'm having cold feet. I am pretty sure it is right, but like so many big decisions, doubts linger. Then again, if I waited until I was 100% sure on all decision in my life, I would have never married or had kids in the first place.
I had a chance recently to share my story with a group of men at our local church. Two points seemed to resonate the most with the guys - first, the fact that my ideal of fatherhood had to be (and still must be) radically redefined to meet the reality of my kids and their needs. Second, the reality that A will be dependent on us forever, and T as well to some extent (it is too early to say and it could go either way with him). T could do very well, adjust, and be relatively independent, or he could succumb to anxiety and aggression, conditions of which he is at great risk of developing.
To the first point, I need to grieve the fatherhood I wanted and move on. It's an on-going process, probably life-long, but it's time to stop thinking about the fatherhood I wanted, and deal with the fatherhood I've been assigned, given, chosen for me. I need to find joy in that fatherhood and stop wishing for a different one.
To the second point, I feel like I need to explain (maybe just for myself) why we agonize over decisions.
If you don't have children, this analogy will probably be lost on you. If you do, then you probably experience how quickly parenthood passes you by, one day, your child speaks a first world, the next day, they go to school, and the next, they are with their friends and you are the uncool parent. In our parenting world, childhood is the same, but in slow motion. Toys get used till they break either because they remain interesting for longer than most kids use them, or because their use is so ingrained change is too difficult for my kids to move on. T re-discovers classics like Baby Einstein at age 4 (please save me from the Cat). Milestones come, but oh, so painfully slowly. I feel like my life is a 2 minute video on YouTube someone keeps playing over and over (maybe it's because my kids do this on a daily basis?)
Years from now, when your kids have moved on, when they are leaving for university or college, when they move out, get girlfriends and boyfriends, begin their careers, get married... years from now my kids will be at home with me, still moving slowly towards their own milestones. A parenthood that so quickly passed for you, that morphed into something new so many times along the way, has stayed the same for me. When you plan your daughter's wedding with her, I may be trying to come up with meaningful activities for her to do as school has ended with staff who have a high school education and a criminal background check. When you retire and begin travelling, I will be trying to find suitable supported living conditions for my kids, praying they never suffer abuse or ill treatment.
When you die surrounded by your children and grandchildren in your old adage (hopefully with them involved in your end of life care), I will be praying my children will be well cared for and have a meaningful life when I am dead.
My job as parent will never be over.
I wanted my own dream of fatherhood.
I got an unexpected one.