As I was driving to visit my kids today, I listened to an episode of The Moth podcast where a woman was talking about how her family never said "I love you" to each other. Despite knowing she was loved the woman had to ask her parents if they could all try to start saying "I love you" in an effort to foster more closeness. I thought about how difficult and awkward it is to step out in an emotional area as an adult and began to wonder how I had done it. Growing up I don't recall my parents being very affectionate and saying "I love you" seemed more like sometime you did out of duty. My mom in particular never had anything positive to say but instead criticized everything. When I reached my teens, I had become uncomfortable with hugs and emotion in general but there was a part of me that desperately wanted to be different. As a parent, I suddenly had an audience every day that didn't judge me or make me feel stupid for hugging or kissing them, being silly or praising them. Most parents mean well but because of their own fears, they make mistakes and hurt their kids. The cool thing is if you choose to have your own children, you have a period of time where you can work into being a good mom or dad and change who you are and the things your parents failed in.
Being a dad has taught me many things:
- You do the best you can but each person is ultimately responsible for their own choices so I didn't have to try and cram god down everyone's throats or control my kids in general.
- How to love and accept love but also how a parent looks at their own children. Being raised with the view of god my parents and religious influences they allowed in the home taught, I was very afraid of screwing up because god was "our father". If he was anything like my parents, I didn't want to make a mistake. True love unencumbered by fear is something that transcends imperfections because it focuses on the heart of the individual. My kids could hate me for their entire lives and I would still love them in another dimension or world after this one so it's hard for me to believe that if god is loving he wouldn't do the same. Learning about love released me from the god and religion that had held me captive for so many years.
- Watching my children attempt to learn things broke a lot of my obsession with perfection. No one starts anything a master but acquires skill over time building confidence along the way (in the proper environment).
- Many of the things that my parents did that hurt me don't hold pain any more because I know they were trying to do the best they knew how. Sure it was fueled by a lot of fear which is not admirable; however, I have way more peace in my life because the new perspective removed the poison that had marinated into the memories.
Having a pack of children at such a young age wasn't the most intelligent thing to do but it's given me the heart I have today. I honestly don't know if I would be who I am if I had taken a different path. It's certainly not an easy path that has been fraught with pain and exhaustion at times but I'll be damned if I take the easy road. For our dreams and fulfillment usually sit atop a mountain accessible only through an arduous journey. The patch beckons "come, though the end is shrouded by over cropping rocks and clouds. Many will mock or try to dissuade, not understanding your soul and the demons you are trying to banish but each footstep will dislodge them till they no longer can find a home in your mind. One day, though you may doubt your own choices, if your focus remains true, an epiphany will be revealed - the steps you have taken were all necessary." Life is a journey traveled out of necessity to the truth we hold in ourselves. Those who examine and pursue truth and peace will not always appear to be the most successful people but success is not quantified by things or position but by what we have to offer in their absence.