Fathers Day 2011
So, Fathers Day 2011 has come, and gone. Its evening and I’m sitting here pondering my navel. Well, it is winter and cold, so I’m checking it out through 3 layers of clothing. Lots of drifting thoughts, lots of layers, and missing the little one too muches. She’s gone back to Mom now but she was here since Wednesday, lighting up our lives and bringing sunshine to her sister and brother and everyone else around her. Lately she is so happy, the last 3 months she turned the corner and she has become a happy, normal child. Last night in the shower she burst into spontaneous singing, as happy as an angel. I love her so much.
Its taken 5 years. Five years of hell, hard work, doubt, elation, frustration and humiliation. Never easy. But this morning, in 3 or 4 seconds, I realised it was all worth it. She woke up, ran to me, gave me a hug and a kiss and said happy fathers day.
I’ve observed an important life lesson at this point of my life: You can be a good mother/father, but that does not automatically mean you are a good parent. Shouting decrees and demands are easy; Earning respect is a delicate and slow process. And an 8-year old knows the difference between obeying to avoid punishment, or blossoming under love and encouragement.
It is very hard for two parents to do it together in a healthy relationship. It is nearly impossible to do it as a single parent. And it is a disaster to attempt to do it if you have anger, resentment, pride, or any of that rubbish from an ex mother (or father) getting in the way.
There seems to be a lot of stuff going on about this whole thing, even David Cameron (UK PM) had something to say [click here]“A father himself, David Cameron said “runaway dads” should feel the “full force of shame” for their actions.”.
But a story that caught my attention was “Sh*t my dad says [click here]“. As the writer told the story, I saw myself reflected in his words. Please go read it.
You see, I’ve always said being a mother (or father) is easy: Anybody can procreate, and most people do. Being a statistical probability doesn’t make you competent as a caregiver, or parent. You are not a mother/father because you were elected to this position or because you won a popularity contest. You are a good mother/father because you donated your superior genes in a moment of fluttering orgasm.
But being a good parent, on the other hand, requires dedication, time, commitment, care for somebody else and not to boost your own ego. You do it for yourself, your beliefs, and what you stand for. You cannot demand it, and you cannot ask for it. You can only be quiet, day-by-day, and wait to observe the uncertain outcome.
Yup. How about this: You are a good mother (or father) because you can impress your lawyer and your Ex’s lawyer: You recite the courses you attended, you list your own achievements with great proclaim (waiting for accolades), you show the inevitable psychologists’ reports with pride.
But being a good parent? That is something else hey?
Thinking about it, being an adopted son, I don’t even know if my (biological) parents were a good mother and father. I never knew them, but it seems like they were ok because I’m still healthy and my genes don’t seem to miss too many x’s or y’s. But what I do know is that my adopted parents were the best parents a child could ever wish for. They cared for me, nurtured me, and allowed me to grow into the parent I am today. If they were still alive I know they would have been proud of me, and my parenting.
And I guess that is what I would like to be remembered for: Not that I was able to ejaculate and be a father, but that I was able to absorb the lessons of life and pass them along to my own children, despite the very difficult circumstances. I know my late Dad (and maybe my father, too) is looking at me and my children with pride and joy, recognising the effort I put in and watching their grandchildren growing up in a loving environment, secure in the knowledge that they are people, not just procreations.
I would much rather be a good parent, than a good mother/father.