Despite the confusion and shadows in one area of my new life, the father I am becoming has never been more clearly defined. I ignored many of the important details when I was a stay-at-home dad through O’s first 18 months of life. Too much adult fallout was extant at the time, most of it self-created and long overdue for arrival. The next several years following our separation and divorce were no less stressful but for very different reasons.
At no point in that painful journey did I lose sight of what was most important to me. My son has been the center of my world since his arrival. I wasn’t always the best dad, mind you, but his being born was the catalyst that sent me down this long road to recovery and rebirth in the first place. He provided judgement and forgiveness without saying a word. His very existence was both an object lesson and a very real responsibility. I couldn’t just wing it like everything else I did in life and expect to get a passing grade.
The most amazing part of my metamorphosis so far has been the blossoming and deepening of our relationship. The love we have for each other gave me the motivation and strength I needed to face down my devil once and for all. Why was I unable to tolerate even the slightest hint of feedback or frustration without blowing up or going rogue? It wasn’t long before I found my ego at the center of each unreasonable reaction to life’s endless idiosyncrasies.
My son being the method by which I discovered my true self is just one more indication that the nature of reality is much more complex and profound than we think. Interconnected souls sent to journey together for as long as fate will allow. I’m here to guide and nurture him as he negotiates a world that isn’t always gentle or kind but should definitely be exciting and fun. He inspired me to heal lifelong wounds and become the Daddy he needs to help him succeed in all those moments yet to come, both big and small.
These new insights got a real test run tonight. It was a veggie feast at the coffee table to enjoy a movie we’ve never seen. I picked Shrek and he lost it. I immediately tuned in to my body for the telltale physiological response that never came. I turned off the TV, took our food to the dining table and enjoyed my dinner. A first for me. He sulked. He pouted. I smiled and asked him to eat. Five minutes on time-out in his bedroom and a calm discussion later, I was able to coax a clean plate out him over the next painfully slow forty-five minutes before bedtime. Small victories. Incremental wins.
My future as a father is again filled with infinite possibility. My new default is wonder and patience and joy. Today was a good day.