Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Parenting v2.0

I just had an epiphany. 

I just realized how scared my son is of life and how lost we all are. Being a father just got much more difficult. And I have no idea what to do about it.

I stopped working about four years ago due to illness and in that time I have become the house husband and father. I have seen my life devolve from a working class stiff, going out everyday and earning my keep in this world, to being at home, medicated, and taking care of the house. The first thing I realized is that it's harder than working for a living. The second thing I realized is that I hate doing it. Not because I like going to work everyday, but because the responsibilities of being a father and a husband are still there and I don't know how to make the shift to a different mind frame. You'd figure after four years I'd figure it out, but no. 

This morning I realized how terrified my son is of becoming an adult, and there's nothing I can do about it. I talked to him, told him I loved him and encouraged him to seize the day and make it his own, but that didn't take away the fear. No longer can I lead by example. Everything is different now. Instead of encouraging him, and defacto, my daughter, to take the example I have set for them, I now have to say 'do what I used to do, not what I do'. 

In the past four years I have lost my military career, my professional career, my health, and much more. It has been a trial of the mind, in the sense that I fight with my inner demons regularly. I want to get back to the way things were and move forward, but I know it will never happen. Not the same way. Not at all. I have to accept the things for what they are, and I can't do that when I hate the way things are. I love my family, I love life and my friends, but that's not enough. I want to be able to give to them the way I used to, even though unmedicated and undiagnosed, I probably screwed things up even more. Is he scared because of what life has become for me? Seeing me wax poetic about better days? Is he scared about losing what we had? How did this happen for him. I don't know. Maybe better that I don't know what caused the fear, and just do something about it.

But I don't know how. I think I took the first step toward understanding this morning. I held him as he broke down, a scared little boy crying on my shoulder. I held him there, I didn't want to let go. I remember holding him like that when he fell off his bike when he was seven. I remember holding him like that when his best friend moved out of town when he was ten. Telling him things were going to be okay, time will heal the wounds and the scars will fade. It was easy then, it's not now. The things he's afraid of are monumental now. This is no scraped knee. This is life. He's 19 and just starting to live it as an adult and we're both afraid of it. I told him I will always be there for my kids, as a parent should, but I can't sway the direction his life takes him anymore. The ball is in his court now and I'm in the stands watching. We've tried to be good parents, mentors, tried to set the example, tried to lead. Now all we can do is watch and see if what we have done as parents made the difference. 

I told him it's too late for me. My path has been set down by forces beyond my control. Nobody can predict what will happen in life, we can only get on the ride, hold the wheel and try to steer, but inevitably, by some unknown force, the car is firmly affixed to the tracks. We are just passengers. He has to take the lead and try to force his direction. He has to choose what ride he gets on. Obviously, mine had a busted track and I fell off.

My daughter has grand plans. She wants to go to Oxford University in England and study to be an anthropologist. Or at least she did last night, that may change today. We will do everything in our power as parents to make that happen. My son also has dreams, to work in the entertainment industry doing the production work on major shows. He wants to work on the cruise ships, he wants to produce major venue events, he wants to be where the music is. He has the passion to do it, as does my daughter, but I can't do it for them. Not anymore. Now I sit by the side and hope and pray that I have been a good father. Good enough for my kids to realize their dreams.

I'm not sure of my dreams anymore. I know that I want to go back to work, I'm too young to be retired, even though everyone says that I can't work anymore. I think that's bullshit and I'm not going to let this illness stop me. At some point I will move forward. I just don't know when or where. I'll send a postcard when I get there. All I know is that whatever happens tomorrow, I'll still be a parent. I still have to care for and nurture my children, my wife, my relationship with my extended family and my friends. None of that has changed, only that I am nurturing those relationships differently. 

And I hope that these relationships can help me find my path again. Because my son is not the only one who's scared about this life.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Yell at me...