Daunting. Joyful. Recipe for astronomical success or failure. Frustrating. Revealing. And I’m only four years in! The day that River was born, everything changed. My perceived purpose on earth become clearer. Here was this little person that couldn’t open his eyes, and didn’t know one thing about his surroundings and he found comfort in MY arms. He found more comfort in Alissa’s arms and perhaps that will never change, but she deserves that.
As he began to reach for things, toys, food, distance traveled while crawling, I saw his raw desire to experience life. In his eyes, somewhere, I found a trace of myself. Perhaps even a part that I’d lost; a zeal, an excitement, a freshness.
Surprisingly, there welled up within me a ferociously protective element. I remember the first time, and I can’t remember what caused it, seeing real fear grip him. He was around two and it wasn’t a scared or knee-jerk reaction, it was an overwhelming realization of something new and frightening. It’s like I saw his little gears turning and that they discovered that he was truly alone in his experience. As he reached for me, the look on his face was burned in my mind and I knew that I would go against all things earthly and unearthly that might want to do him harm. I’ll confess that in certain moments of thought, I’ve called Abraham a complete fool if not an unfit father. That kind of faith is admirable at least and possibly attainable at most.
Perhaps the scariest thing for me is not being able to protect my sons from an inescapable flawed part of humanity: their father. My shortcomings lie bare before them in our home. If my temper flares, they feel it. If Alissa and I “discuss” things a bit more spirited than we’d like, they feel it. My motivation for cleaning up my act is high, but like a lot of things in our lives that often get pushed into that category “That’s just how I am” I find myself causally battling something takes an all-out inner war. For the record, I believe the phrase “That’s just how I am” is a direct and rebellious spit in God’s face.
One of the many ways in which I am blessed is the parenting examples that I had growing up. My mom is still tireless and passionate when it comes to helping us whenever she can. When I was younger, it was being a stay at home mom. When I was in high school it was going to my games and concerts and working in the school office. I’m pretty sure she was cooler at my school than I was. And all the things she did over the years to let me know that she was paying attention teaches me that my boys, whether they know it or not, are waiting to be payed attention to; by me.
My dad helped me actually SEE the world. Growing up in the woods of north east Kansas, he taught me how to be still and listen. He has a way of tying this event with that experience and using it to teach. Somehow he ignited in me a knowledge that everywhere I go there is something unexplored, something that someone overlooked and if I watch, and listen, I’ll find it, and it will move and grow me.
I want these things for my sons.
River is a vat of energy. He is articulate and so quick at making surprisingly complex connections. May God help me to be the kind of man that when he’s not trying to be like me, and is, he won’t get himself into trouble. Does that make sense? My favorite thing about River right now is how good he is with Rainn. It took a while, but it’s beautiful how if River thinks I’m being mean to his little bro (pulling dirt out of Rainn’s mouth) River will run at me with full intent of taking me out. I love it.
Rainn is sweetness embodied. SUCH a different start into this world. Because Alissa had to have a c-section with him, I got to be with him for the first 45 minutes or so. I feel like that got us off on a good foot. : ) He’s so tough. He HAS to be with River as his brother. No 1 year old can safely keep up with a 3 year old.
All that to say, my imperfections make me stumble as a father, but my motivation to keep going is a fire that burns higher and hotter than I ever predicted. I recognize that they will grow up much faster than I will have wanted them to and that every moment is precious. Even when all I want to do is get to work, I know that it’s good for me to re-energize so that I can be a better dad when I get home. Speaking of getting home…