January 27, 2009

A Good Father

The beauty of attending a reunion like I did is that it forces you to look at your life and think about what it is that you are doing. Because when you run around a room telling people from your past about your present you have your nose pushed right into a pile of life.

I spent a chunk of time Saturday night listening to people spin tales about who they are and what they do. I am not trying to say that people were lying or embellishing the truth, but in many cases that is exactly what they did.

Some of the people that we thought of as being goofballs or least likely to succeed are incredibly successful now. And some of those we expected to be a huge succeess were not. It is not easy to look some of them in the eye and tell a story about a life that hasn't lived up to what you wanted. It is even harder when you listen to someone shout with such exuberance about how things are better than they ever could have imagined.

Now it is no secret that the last four years have been harder for me than I would have ever expected. I have faced some challenges that I couldn't have foreseen. I have dealt with unfair situations and circumstances and done the best that I could. Sometimes I fell down. Sometimes I simply failed.

But there were other moments when I didn't. There were moments when I succeeded in spite of the stumbling blocks that were set before me. I'd like to say that there were more succcesses than failures, but I am not completely sure that it is so.

What I can say is that these experiences have provided a sort of hard scrabble education. I have learned things about myself that will inevitably help me. I have stood in the fire and watched the flames burn me. I know, it is bit melodramatic but it is how I feel.

It has also helped to clarify not just what I want, but what I need. And that is something that some people never quiet figure out. I can tell you what I want with a lot of detail and know that it is accurate. I can also tell you that I am working to achieve those goals and that I am doing my best to do it without wreaking havoc everywhere.

If you want to know how this applies to being a good father, well I can give you a number of explanations. I am a good father. I work hard for my family and do a lot to give the children a great life. But I can do better. I am falling short in some areas. There are some things that I can improve at and I am working on it.

I can tell you that I believe that my children are going to be able to look at my life and learn a lot from it. They'll be able to see that I have made a lot of mistakes but that I have also made a lot of smart moves.

If all goes as I hope it will those lessons will serve them well. One of the most important lessons is how to keep going when it feels like the world is collapsing. It is something that I saw with my parents and something that I hope that I can pass along.

When it is all said and done I think that the most important part of being a good father is giving your children the tools to live a good life. If I can do that then I am fairly confident that they'll make good choices, at least I hope so.

I won't be defined solely by the deeds and actions of my children, but I do hope that when I am gone they have nothing but fond memories of me as having been a good father.

2 comments:

Shira Salamone said...

"the most important part of being a good father is giving your children the tools to live a good life." I'm a very "tachlis"-oriented person, very oriented toward the basic practicalities. I've always thought it essential to raise children to become adults, not perpetual children. To bring your laundry home because you happen to be coming home anyway is one thing. To bring an entire semester's laundry home because you don't know how to do laundry is another. By the time our son left for college, he knew how to do laundry, clean an apartment (yes, including scrubbing the john/VC/lieu/loo or whatever term you use), and do basic cooking and mending. It never ceases to amaze me that some people actually send their kids off to college totally unprepared to care for themselves.

On the other hand, I think other folks have done or are doing a better job than we did with the more philosophical issues and/or other coping skills. You seem to have a better handle on that, and your children will benefit from your "life lessons."

Jack said...

Hi Shira,

I agree. If you don't give your children the skills to survive without you they're going to be in real trouble.