Being a dad is rough work– it’s another one of those challanges that life throws at you– showing you that even the greatest thing you can accomplish in your life has challanges. I thought of this in particular today because we went to breakfast at one of my favorite places for breakfast– the place isn’t important– but Lili and I both noticed an older gentleman having lunch with his son– you could tell right away that his kid was an addict of some sort– probably heroin, definitely something, and they were there, sitting across from each other, having breakfast, in silence. The son looked homeless and went outside every couple of minutes to have another smoke– he had five while we were there eating our breakfast and each time he would pace back and forth past our window– the life practically gone from his eyes. I kept looking over at his father, in his 60’s to see if there was some kind of reaction, something we could look at to indicate he was aware of what was happening– and it never came– each time his homeless looking son would come back to their table and they would continue on, eating and not saying anything to each other.
That stuck with me for most of today. I wonder to myself if that older man ever felt as much joy as I do everyday with my kids or if he was always like that– present, yet so distant– and it really makes you think about the grandest of things, life, relationships and how they change us, the mold us, into the people we are– we really are rarely just ourselves, but rather a complicated twist of all the personalities around us. I think of my own father over the years of my life– at times we are close, at times we couldn’t be further apart from one other, but we always seem to come together.
This is probably the earliest picture I have with my dad left anymore– and clearly you see him pouting and me looking pissy about something– and thats what typically happens, fathers and sons are almost always paired at odds– one has to enforce the rules and one wants to break them– it’s not an easy task and there is always conflict , but what makes or breaks a good relationship is how you deal and live in those moments where there is conflict. Every kid has their rough patches with their fathers and I am not exempt from that rule by any means– my dad and I have had some good battles over the years about life– but you learn over the years to get better and forgiving and forgetting that you about remembering what you were at odds with in the first place.
The thing about that I am always trying to learn about fatherhood is how selfless it is. I find that the best way to be a father to your kids is to just be there for them– and that is a rough thing to put yourself into that position when you spend most of your adult life trying to distinguish yourself with other people– our identities are shaped by the people we associate with– for the formative years, that’s the people that raise you– for some its their natural parents, for others, step parents, grandparents, foster parents, adopted parents, etc… and all of those experiences help shape who we all are, but then there is the social engineering of us all– the people we spend time with as we break out of that family inclusion, the daycare, the schoolmates, the fraternity brothers, etc– and those people also help shape who YOU are– they particularly shape that individualism that helps to make YOU. For me, the people I have met over the years helped to give me the wings to fly and discover the world– but the kids, the kids that you have, they are the ones who bring you back to the reality– they are the ones who make it all simplier, it’s no longer about the money or the experiences, it’s about going up to get an Ice Cream with them– and not a blizzard, but a plain junior vanilla junior cone. It’s about not going out to some exotic location that you have never been, its about sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching Thomas the Train– all stuff that the individual me would have scoffed at– that it was ridiculous.
A great example of that happened in Cabo this past week– here we were staying at this awesome resort with seemingly endless beach and Elliott got so excited that Jake and the Neverland Pirates was on (but he did get excited about swimming after that)
Another example is the photo below– my buddy Neil and his family (we stayed at their timeshare **Thanks Neil) went snorkling our last full day there, but Elliott just wanted to ride a boat, so we took a simple $15 glass bottom boat tour around to where the pacific meets the sea of cortez and it was just perfect. With kids, you don’t need to go to the extremes– you just need to be there to hold their hands and point out the stuff they are seeing. In a way, they just simplify it all– they break it all down so easily….
This was the first year of fatherhood x2– as Liam was born last October– and that boy makes me smile everyday– its interesting to see the personality difference between two of my own kids– even at 7 months now– I am humbled by him everyday– and I love that these two boys are already realizing that they are brothers– I’m sure the fighting and nitpicking will come- it always does, but its interesting to watch how Liam watches everything that Elliott is already doing– how he laughs differently at him and listens to when Elliott is talking– its like he already respects him?
Then there is watching it all come together– in the end, I have such newfound respect for my father in the way that he takes my sons under his wing and simply adores the time with them– he teaches Elliott — the whole reason Elliott just loves trains is because of my dad– he takes him down to watch the Amtrak trains and the Sounder trains and the Coal trains — all the different trains that run by Edmonds, Elliott could give you the low down on all of it and he does it year round with him, rain or shine, if he at grandpa’s there will be a walk and it will be to watch the trains– and it’s specifically their time– and I know both of them are better people because of it and that’s what being a father is all about– forgetting about all the things you want to do and just jumping on board for the crazy ride of what your kids have planned for you– you just have to remember to hold on tight.