A Special Father's Day Story and Message
Recently, I had a wonderful conversation (via social media) with my now 24 year old son. I was seeing if he remembered some of the highlights of growing up with me and his mom. While we were not 'high class', we were a thrifty middle class family, and because we were happy to settle for refurbished second hand or even picking items up left at the curb by neighbors, we had a lot of fun possessions that enhanced our lives. I am grateful to have been able to convince a wonderful woman to marry me despite a rocky start in life. She was convinced that the mentor I met at age twenty nine did actually instill in me the ability to be a 'real man'. Lets go back about two years before I met my sons mom. He (my mentor) was a Jordanian Muslim. He apologized for not being able to teach me his religion, as he realized he was a complete hypocrite (we met in a coffee shop, playing a strip poker video game, smoking cigarettes and sharing the expense of depositing quarters in the machine and buying each other coffees). He understood I had just come out of a traumatizing relationship, and was hiding my feelings. He offered to teach me what he learned as a child- How to be a 'Real Man'. In Jordan, their culture is to train their children as young as seven or eight years old how to be good brothers/sisters, to be well behaved and respectful children, how to be good employers/employees, how to be good husbands/wives, and how to be good fathers/mothers. All this with actual home schooling and tests involved. He equated this teaching to children of the same age here in North America- Learning how to play the piano if lucky. I was surprised at his knowledge of the Bible and how he often referenced Christ as a great example of how to do 'this', or avoid 'that'. (I came out of a Pentecostal upbringing, and know the Bible well myself). Two to three hours per day, seven days a week for three months of intense learning, challenging, assignments and several tests came to an end at one point. He felt he taught me all he could. Wow! What he taught me certainly carried through to me marrying a fantastic lady, and fathering my son whom this article is actually about. My simple advice- Study to show thyself approved. Seems being able to be open minded, more loving, more understanding, more AVAILABLE are desired characteristics and were contagious! I was able to raise a child with excellent purpose, a gentle, loving hand, yet a strong arm when needed for supporting the family 100% or more when needed. Many see marriage as 50/50. It is actually no less than 100/100, and occasionally off balance if one partner becomes ill, or is absent for some reason. Being ready, willing and able at ALL TIMES has made the separation and divorce from my child's mom not just easier, but pleasant and beneficial to both of us. People do often change, or have an awakening that can disrupt even the most solid of foundations. (I know of people leaving high paying jobs to become missionaries abroad). So lets come back to the present. My son did in fact, recall many of the little memories I sent his way. He is extremely grateful for all he was privileged to. He is grateful for the sound teaching he has received and is so ecstatic that both his parents are not just civil to each other- but caring. Being a father means different things to different people. Personally, I believe it is an action, not a fate/happenstance. Just because someone contributed to your life biologically does not make them a "Dad". Yes- they may be your father, but the quality of time spent with you, (as the quantity may be restricted) is what really makes a father a 'Dad'. What are we teaching our children as parents? Are we reaching out to others if things are difficult to assist in bringing a peace and sense of well being back into our families? Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Are you part of a supportive village? While I may be blessed to have all I have, a fantastic child/young adult who is wise and loving, I understand many may be experiencing difficulties at this time. My advice to you, whether a dad or a single mom raising a child/children on your own- Do yourself a HUGE favour and do what it takes to make yourself happy. Perhaps reach out to a therapist or a wise friend for advice. Take time out for yourself if you can find a sitter. Remember, a happy YOU is the BEST YOU for everyone involved. Like the airlines instruct before a flight- In the event of an emergency, and the oxygen masks drop... Be sure to place it firmly on YOURSELF FIRST!!! What will your child do if you are not able to be of assistance? Take care of YOU! Children are resilient- They will survive being without you for a few hours while you go to a much needed break of a movie or dinner or dancing. Trust me on that. Happy Fathers Day from a 'Dad'.