The Unbearable Lightness (and occasional darkness) of Being (a Father)
I asked my kids to help me clean up their rooms recently; really clean-up – not the “stuff all your crap in a drawer and use your butt to try and close it until the crappy cardboard that is called a drawer bottom falls out” clean up. It’s because we have to get our house ready to sell.
When our family of 1 became a family of 1 divided by 2 parents last Summer, I vowed to keep the house for the kids. They feel comfortable here and safe. It is where their friends come over. It’s where they are secure. It was the one constant that I felt I could control during the upheaval that is divorce.
After over a year, I had to make the difficult decision to sell the house – both for financial reasons and more importantly, for emotional reasons. It is important for me to have a place that isn’t like living inside a diorama of my marriage on a 24/7 basis.
Yesterday, as I checked in how my daughter’s progress was coming along, I saw she had her iPhone horizontally placed between her hands as she pivoted in a circle from the middle of the room.
“What are you doing?”, I asked.
“Oh – I’m filming my room because I don’t want to forget what it looked like.”, she responded rather innocently.
I had a lump in my throat for the rest of the night and a larger one in my stomach. I had second, third, and fourth thoughts…and a glass of wine to match each.
This is difficult. I love my kids more than anything. Truly. I think sometimes people don’t understand how much you love someone until a 12 year old innocently states a fact that you know has more meaning than she even realizes.
I ran into an acquaintance recently, about to become an empty nester as her last kid goes off to college. I tried to find the positive by reflecting how nice it will be to get back to her own time, that sort of thing. She replied, “no, I actually like my kids.” Wow – message received. If you like your kids – good for you. I like mine, too, sometimes, but that’s not really the point.
I love my kids. I don’t particularly like them all the time. And as the teenage years keep coming, less and less. I am pretty sure they feel the same about me.
The unbearable part of all of this is the love part. I could deal with the like. I like hanging with my kids, too, but the prospect of moving doesn’t tug at my gut in that way. But it does when I check on them at night sleeping or I see them carelessly walking down the stairs without looking. It’s hard to not feel as if I am causing yet another disruption. This is where the love part stings.
It’s difficult being a parent of any ilk – male, female, married, divorced, whatever – if, if you are willing to love your kids even when you don’t like them. That’s when it gets really hard because it’s no longer a contest to befriend them. It’s a mirror held in your face every second that keeps you honest. And that – that is something that helps you realize that there will be new films to be taken in a new house, too, but it won’t make things necessarily any easier.
Until next time,