I have made it my lifelong lesson to learn from every experience, good or bad. I try to learn more from the failures than the successes. Successes are just a blueprint of how to do things right and require more or less minor tweaking, while failures require time and thought to dissect and pull the lessons learned from. I feel that I have spent the past three or four years constantly dissecting as I learn how to be father to two wonderful girls.
I learned that love is best when given unconditionally and put ahead of everything else in life. I struggled learning to be a dad. Between my career requirements which kept me away for very long stretches of time, the burden it placed on me when I was home, and my own mental and emotional health deteriorating I was an absentee father. I would talk about the relationship with Mrs. Rex, but she deserves her own post. I was glued to work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, vacation or not. It took a lot to stop putting the job first when I saw the impact it had on my girls.
What would you think as a kid when your dad would leave a gathering you went to as a family, because work couldn’t wait? What would you think of birthdays, holidays, special events where he just wasn’t able to be there? What about him coming home from work exhausted because he had used all of his energy in being the person his job demanded he be? That all that was left was impatience, raised voice, lack of compassion. This is the world they inhabitted. I’d be lying if I said I still don’t feel some guilt over that period, but I have also realized that I was not well then.
Sometimes my experiences as much as I tried to protect the girls from them came bubbling over. When the oldest surprised me from behind the couch and I went into a panic attack because the medication I was on post-surgery had a negative effect on my mental health. She thought she broke daddy and wouldn’t come near me for half a day. But here comes the upbeat side of this post. She was resilient. I can’t put it more simply than that, she shows amazing reslience in the face of a life filled with upheaval.
She is turning eight next year and has lived in three different states, has not attended the same school two years in a row ever, moved houses three times and has only had me around for 2/3rds of her time alive. Until I left my former career it was less than half. However, she is a ball of sunshine and always excited about thing old and new. She loves finding a place to fit in no matter where she is and makes freinds easily. She is always proud to tell us how she did in school or new things that she has learned, and follows the rules closely ( sometimes to the point where Mrs. Rex and I look at each and roll our eyes). She will have to find a career where absolute honesty is a pre-requisite because I don’t think she is even capable of lying. She is though capable of loving. She has a heart for others that is bigger than I have ever seen in a child her age and I now try to do everything I can to foster that spirit of hers (aside from giving her all our assetts to hand out. She taught me that love is resilient and strong. I feared love could fracture easily and be impossible to repair after damage. She has taught me it is more elastic and while it might dismorph in the short term it bounces back to its normal shape in the long run.
My youngest just turned five and when she was born we thought we had the most perfect snuggly, happy, sleepy baby in the history of ever. She doesn’t remember the worst of my struggles and never was exposed to the difficulty of life without me being around that she remembers. Then we figured out we had birthed a con-artist. As a toddler she conned the day care workers to thinking she couldn’t walk until they caught her one day when she thought they weren’t looking and toddled down the hall. That’s her personality for you, always a little bit of mischief, and always looking to be pampered.
Unfortunately for her, we figured all of this out fairly quickly and even worse for her, her mind works like mine does (minus the damaged parts) so she has a hard time getting much past me. However, it won’t stop her completely like when we found she had taken her sister’s school glue and glued art to the wall of her bedroom this weekend…I can only shake my head sometimes and leave the room so she doesn’t see me laughing. She’s taught me that even when things go wrong or you aren’t perfect there is humor in life. I find myself not being as angry with her anymore when her mischevous ways pop out, but using it as an opportunity to hone patience and find the humor in the “not quite right”.
There are so many lessons I have learned that I could make this into an article, so maybe instead I’ll make it a serial. I don’t won’t to make the posts so long that you, the reader, don’t want to finish them, but there are so many lessons to share that I don’t want to do an injustice to them by cutting them short. So let’s consider this to be episode 1. I’ll make sure episode 2 follows before too long. Until then, I’ve got to go love on my little Raptors. Daddicus out!