Parenting is Rough
Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s way harder than marriage. Not that marriage isn’t hard but, I know that Jocelyn is an adult and can take of herself. My kids are just kids.
I’ve had a couple experiences with my son the last couple of weeks that have re-solidified the importance of my role as a dad. I’ve written about it before and will likely write about it again.
On Tuesdays and Thursday I pick Emerson up from Karate, while Jocelyn is up with Norah at swim lessons. For about twenty minutes it’s just the two of us at home. I start dinner, he changes out of his gi and we talk. Until the ladies get home.
Emerson has mentioned how much he enjoys the time with just the two of us. Even though we don’t really do anything.
On one particular day he was very excited about it just being the two of us. While he was changing out of his gi the garage door opened. Immediately he burst into tears. Upset that he didn’t get to enjoy our time together.
I didn’t know what to do. It’s impossible for me to know what’s important to him. Once I find out, I want to make sure that he knows that I know that it’s important to. I try to make it a priority.
I am guessing, like his mom, that his love language is quality time.
A week of so later during this same time we got to talking. Emerson said to me, “I wish I didn’t have to go to school so that I could spend all my time with you.”
In not one of my prouder moments I responded with something like, “Why? I don’t want to spend all my time with you.”
Hopefully my memory is much worse than it was. I do remember that Emerson’s response was very questioning. He wanted to know why.
It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with him. I know that he doesn’t want to spend all of his time with me. He just wants to build a relationship.
I scrambled trying to justify my answer with having to go do work, and make money, which is really just an excuse. I did say that I loved to spend time with him and that I always look forward to the time we spend together.
We moved passed the moment and I am sure that I thought about it a lot more than he did. At least I hope that I thought about it a lot more than he did.
When something like that comes out of my mouth it has to come from somewhere and so I tried to figure out where it came from (I know big surprise). It’s always difficult to discover things about myself that I didn’t expect or that I don’t necessarily like.
I love being a family man. I love being a dad. So why didn’t I say, “I wish I could stay home all the time too.”?
Because I don’t want to stay home all the time. I also love what I do. I love being involved with something bigger than myself. I love working on creative projects that stretch me. I love helping students go to college.
My involvement with those things isn’t bad. Where I think that involvement has the ability to wreck my relationship with my kids is when I fail to acknowledge it. When I pretend to be something that I’m not because I lack self-awareness.
Like anything that is good there is a dark side too. In order for me to have self-awareness I have to see the things I don’t like:
I am reactionary and impatient
I don’t always say what’s on my mind
I can be passive aggressive
I can come across as unsympathetic and uncaring
I have a hard time joking
Those are just some of things that I struggle with. On the reverse side of those coins:
I love just about everyone
I am always willing to forgive and forget
I can pretend with the best of them
I will support anything that you want to do or accomplish
I will apologize when I’ve made a mistake and do my best to correct it
I want my kids to be better than me. In many cases they are. I know that I am providing an example whether I love the example I am setting or not.
After many parenting foibles I hope that my example places them in reality. That when they see me they see me for what I am.
I’m a dude that makes mistakes, tries his best, and corrects the wrongs he makes. At the end of the day that’s all I can hope to be. I hope that’s what they see, and ultimately become.
I talked specifically about my son in this post. He is the most vocal. He takes after Jocelyn. Norah, in this regard is like me, just goes with the flow and keeps things inside. The struggle is getting her to open up and talk about things.
My hope is the same for both of them.