I sometimes wake from a deep slumber without any predisposed thought to my current place in life. Time, in effect, is meaningless. I’m not a husband, father, or any other descriptive label assigned to define my existence.
I’m simply me. The guy trying to figure out the big picture.
Then, some sight or sound disrupts my stream of consciousness and the disparate pieces of my existence click back into place like a well-oiled machine. These pieces form the man I’ve become, with all the inherent responsibilities and joys of fatherhood. Certainly I’ve evolved as a dad, yet I wonder if my uninhibited former self, which continues to resurface during my early waking state, shouldn’t still have a seat at the table.
The question of balance affects both parents.
My wife can melt my heart with a simple glance. My pulse still quickens in her presence. Her inner beauty also shines through via her comforting words and exceedingly generous nature. She’s a wonderful mother to our children and I’m fortunate to have been graced by her love. And yet, she, too, has encountered the growing pains of evolving into a parent. I imagine for many parents it’s the root of many contentious battles over seemingly harmless subject matter. So how do we meet the challenge without totally forgetting the people we were before we were parents?
I think the answer is an unwavering determination not to quit. The solution will come over time, but only with sacrifice, compromise, and enlightenment. I draw upon this newfound knowledge not from some late-night self-help guru or online oracle, but rather my 1-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
I was leaving my home a few nights ago to attend a martial arts class. My daughter, aware of my imminent departure, raced to the door and positioned herself between me and the door. Then she looked me dead in the eyes and told me in no uncertain terms, “No leave!” As I bent down to gently reassure her of my return, she backed me up with a shove to my nose, and told me once more emphatically, “No leave!”
My wife got a chuckle out of it and honestly, so did I. But I really admired my daughter’s gumption. She made a stand and was not going to succumb to any drivel doled out by her parents designed to make her cave.
Too often as adults we waver to placate others, including ourselves. As we evolve as moms and dads, we also need to recognize the value of the foundations rooted in the days before we embarked on the journey of parenthood. Seeing the world through the unfiltered eyes of a child can remind one of the importance of dreams, ambitions, and the strength of love for one another.
I still marvel at being a dad. Each day brings new beginnings as well as a chance for renewal. Therein can be found the unspoken power of family—the door that’s always open for the dreamer within.
—Photo Untitled blue/Flickr