These two guys mean the world to me…
My first was born just over 20 years ago. I’ll never, ever forget so many details of that day. When I held him for the first time and he wrapped his fingers around mine. How he wailed and then quieted. He has always been the one who has pushed my buttons, pushing when I needed him to pull and pulling when I needed him to push. But at heart and in reality, he has been a good kid, wanting nothing more than to have fun and enjoy his life. Who can blame him. There are many ways in which he and I are similar. I’m sorry, son.
My younger son came along 34 months later. For some reason I don’t remember the day of his birth as much. I guess that’s the cost of being the second. Or third. Or fourth. What I do remember is this. When he got into the twos and threes he didn’t want anything to do with me. That changed when we went to Disneyland for the first time. I needed him to hold my hand in a crowd. He didn’t want to. I told him I’d be my buddy forever if he did. He held my hand and we promised at that moment to be buddies forever. While our relationship has not been bliss since then, he has been my buddy in so many ways. He has listened to me a bit more then the older one. And he still to this day gives me hugs every day and tells me he loves me and misses me. The reality is … he is everybody’s buddy. I can’t claim him as my own. He is just such a good kid.
So, we have come now to this…
In some respects, this is my last father’s day where they are my kids. Still at home. Still under my thumb. Next year will likely be different. They are both off to college in a couple of months.
I mentioned this to a work colleague a couple of days ago and he congratulated me on reaching such a momentous life event. I hemmed and hawed as is my habit. I struggle so regularly with seeing the glass half full when there’s a realistic opportunity to see it as actually full and overflowing. This is one of those moments.
My boys have reached this stage in their lives with some level of success and, in truth, very few problems. No trouble with the law. No drugs. No booze. In the grand calculation of it all, I have been blessed with two kids who have done well for themselves, although there have been some mistakes and struggles along the way. They are both respectful and polite when they are out and about in the world. They are good kids. No … rewind that and play it over. They are great kids.
And that is something that I have forgotten all too often as I have gone through these 20 years and struggled with being a father. They have meant the world to me since that first moment I held my first in my arms. I learned at that moment and in those first few years what unconditional love meant. I’ll never ever forget that and will always be thankful to my boys for showing me the things they have.
But, now, I’m done with all of that on some level. They are passing from me to the world and all I can do is hope that somewhere along the way I taught them something, showed them by example, said the right thing often enough, and loved them enough to lead them to a path that is now theirs to take to their own success and happiness. And that they do good and be good out there in the big, wide world.
I am eager for this stage of my life to be over. It has been hard work being their father, probably more because of the way I am than the troubles they caused me. It isn’t an easy thing being a parent. It is, as I tell all new parents to be I come across, the most exhausting, frustrating and difficult thing you will ever do. But every day, your child will do something that makes it all worth while. I’ve struggled with that last part in the last few years — that worth while part — as they have grown older and further away from me. It’s made it more difficult to continue on. They say that teenagers are made the way they are to make it easier to see them leave. I think there’s some truth to that.
So … I’ll stop this ramble now. I’m ready for them to leave, not because I don’t love them. Not because I want them out of the house. No, actually, I want them to leave because it is their time to do so. I need them to leave because it is what they need for themselves. It is time for them to make their mark, to direct their own lives, and for me to step back. I’m thrilled to let that happen. 😉 My job, the most difficult, but rewarding job, of my life is now over. All I can hope for now is that they have learned something and will take this on and succeed.
To my boys, on this last Father’s Day when you are my kids …
For all those times I said something hurtful, I am sorry.
For all those times I wasn’t there for you, I am sorry.
For all those times I was just too tired, I am sorry.
For all those times I didn’t listen, I am sorry.
For all those times I rushed to judgment, I am sorry.
For all of my failings as your father, I am sorry.
I only did what I could do, the best possible, which was always flawed, but I tried. Because I loved you and always will. You each mean the world to me in your own special way and always will.
I hope you remember the things I remember and let go of the painful memories that seem inevitable in any father-son relationship. Pieces pitching and pumping his fist after a strikeout or sliding into third with a huge smile. Bumble Bee making a save and taking charge in the goal. School field trips to the Headlands and Science Camp. Disneyland, Hawaii and hours spent in the ocean, the Oregon Coast and dancing with the waves, hikes in the mountains, weekends in San Francisco and Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo, Giants games, soccer games, quiet times at home, cannonballs in the pool. The list could go on. We have a lot of things to remember and build on.
Love you both more than you will ever consider possible until you have kids of your own. Love you! But now it’s your turn. My job is done. I’m stepping back. Let’s see if you will continue to shine as you have in my life these past 20 years.