“Sunrise doesn’t last all morning. A Cloud burst doesn’t last all day.
Seems my love is up and left you without warning. It’s not always going to be this way…” (George Harrison – All things must pass).
Parenthood is the greatest responsibility ever to have been bestowed upon the human race – and I include our responsibility to care for the Earth in this role. The life we create is so, through a moment of unique timings, events and chances that are infinite – A million sperm of which one races and reaches a single egg (usually).
A million more moments of chemical reaction creates a life and from there, millions upon millions of moments lead to the birth. As the life evolves, many more chance moments, experiences and nutrition we give though food, love and learning, creates a unique human being.
All this occurs in just the first 9 months of pregnancy. The following 18 months sees rapid physical, mental and spiritual growth, which continues through to adulthood and beyond.
With this in mind, the role of the parent is immense. We must nurture, support, love and teach, in a way that will one day see our children become the best they can possibly be and prepared for what life presents.
A child will watch, mimic and learn. Their opinions and conceptions on everything the world has to offer, is determined primarily by the actions, behaviour and characteristics of the parents and everything they have contact with on a daily basis.
It is important for us to be at our best as all the time – or to at least try to be. A Dad may fail – My dad did and boy, so have I. But these failings are only a true failing where we have not tried our best. Despite the failings, there is a hope a child will learn from them and at times this is all we may have left.
There are some key failings all fathers are susceptible to – We are human after all – but as long as you can end a day having evaluated the events and thought, “I did my best and I was in control of myself”, you can afford tell yourself you have done a good job. Even though you may find yourself in this fortunate position and feel you have aced the day, it is important not to rest on this too long – after all, tomorrow is a new day with new challenges. Get a good night sleep because tomorrow you can always do better.
And so the key failings. All Dads are guilty of these and many are borne out of good intentions. But ponder on one thing, ‘If my next moment is my last, what do I want my child’s everlasting opinion of me to be? What do I need to teach them before I leave for the last time?’
The instinct is to be the provider, despite history showing this as possibly the biggest failure. Earn the money and let that be the role to aspire to. This is admirable and important, but there must also be a balance. Working long, hard hours will bring in the food for the table, but there are negatives. First and foremost, your work/ life balance. I watched my Dad leave for work everyday. He worked shifts in industry of up to 18 hours at a time – Eat, work, Sleep, repeat. Quite often he was not there and quite often, I yearned for him. I needed him. I waited by the door as he left and if I was not asleep, I would wait for his return. What lessons did I learn from my father at such a young age, other than he was not there?
For Dad, work was physically hard. He brought in a lot of money, usually through overtime and as a family we had all the material wealth we could need. During that time in work, he got injured, sick and stressed. As the years past, so did the work and his health. By the age of 45 he was retired. Industry left the area and his very ill health left no chance of alternate employment. He spent the next 15 years struggling, partly supported by his children – Something I never begrudged and would gladly do all over again. Wouldn’t it have been nice for me as a young boy and my well Dad to have had less money but quality time together? Think about all that learning, life and love we could have crammed in. Money doesn’t last and it sure isn’t everything.
Now as a Dad, I see very similar traits. I work long hours but in an office. I bring in money but rarely see my sons in the week. I am stressed. my health is deteriorating and my work is always threatened with cuts… are events repeating themselves?
‘Wait until your father gets home’. My Dad hated these words. Mum always used them when she found herself at her wits end. The Threat alone was enough to send me racing to bed, to the dinner table or to the bath for a soak. My Dad was not a violent man, but after a long day he may arrive at home to an order from mum to lay down the law. He would have to tell us off. Remind us of our duty to behave and deal out the punishment fit for the crime. If present for the original offence, Dad would be quick to shout, read the riot act, and deal out the punishment. What a lot of words and discipline. Sometimes it would be all we heard of a day and after a while, the children would get conditioned to it and plain ignore.
Why be the scary person? I’ve found myself shouting and threatening punishment. Breathe, think and remember that kids are just kids. Teach rather than punish, it’s so much more effective and lives longer in he memory.
Three simple words
It is a fact that Every son and daughter loves their Dad (and mum), until they give reason not to. Even then, it takes a number of events and chances for the love to be lost. It is also very much the case that children want to be loved by Dad (and mum). So why is it so hard for Dad to say the words?
My Dad was of a generation where feelings were hard to receive and give. I can’t recall a single moment where Dad said the words to me as a child. I’m proud to announce that it was me who said these words. Years of holding back. Years following divorce and one day. A hot summers day in a Spanish Villa after a couple of bottles of beer between my Dad and I. We sat drinking (I was 19), and I just chose my moment, “I love you Dad”. immediately he turned to me and without hesitation said, “I love you son”. Proudest moment between us. But it took 19 years and every time I saw him after I made sure I said it again – not always with a response, but it was out there.
It is so important to say the words. Say them every day, even if you’ve argued. I tell my sons every morning as I leave for work and every night I put them to bed. If I arrive late home, I go to their rooms and while they sleep, I tell them, “Daddy loves you so much”.
It may seem silly, but it is so important. I spent years wondering if dad loved me and of course he did, but the unknown is a curse and there comes a time where it will be too late. Do not let it become your curse.
Today marks the third year of my fathers Death. In the early morning I hiked from the village where my father was born, past the school my grandfather attended. across the field and River we all played in. Through farmland we all walked through and up a mountainside we all climbed. I stood at the point where my fathers ashes are spread and admired the bluebells he loved so much. I was still in the woodland overlooking the village and house that coursed through his veins throughout his life.
Overwhelmed with sadness, joy and loss, I spoke the words I am most proud to have said and instantly heard back, “I love you”.
Let yourself say these words without shame to those you love. There are no better words or greater feelings invoked.
Tip of the day: Communication
Today’s tip is basic and does not deviate from the post. Communicate. Be clear in your love and clear in your words. Learn from each other and ask as many questions as you can. Don’t let your opportunities to speak your heart carry with the ashed you’ve cast to the breeze.