I gave up on being a conventional parent long ago.
To be clear, I didn’t give up on my boys. Not by a long shot.
I just decided not to be the typical American dad, fixated on superlatives, shielding them from harm, pushing them to become little imitations of me, hoping that they would somehow evolve beyond my own shortcomings so that I could, by proxy, find success in their successes.
Instead, I tried to live and parent by the mantras I sought to teach them. Namely, that happiness is the only true aim in life. That each person must, individually, seek that happiness and commit to manifesting it in this world. And that, when it comes right down to it, everyone still does as they damn well please.
To not be surprised when people are insincere. To manage expectations. To recognize the moment and live within it. To laugh easily and anger reluctantly. To hold on to wonder and let go of regret.
To chase dreams impossible to catch, but to delight in the pursuit.
Each son, in his own way, heard what I said and made good on the lesson. Casting themselves into the world with abandon, finding purchase that felt right to them, shrugging off convention, wrestling with their own decisions and mistakes, and gaining strength therefrom.
I watch them retreat from me, rushing toward their own adventures, and I swell with unearned pride at who they have become.
More than they once were. Seekers of their own truths. Owners of their own happiness.
I love this so much. You are a wonderful father, and I adore you.
Valuable lessons for all of us here, Mike. The boys are lucky to have you to guide them.
Thank you, Leah. Parenting is as much an art as it is a calling. And you have both in abundance. May what we do lead to better men in this world.
Yes! I will never forget being in prayer and realizing I was trying to do for my daughter what I wished had been done for me and immediately knowing that would backfire. It was a selfish way of parenting. And in all honesty, an attempt to rub it in to my parents who did all they knew to do, could do, wanted to do. The point being, they did their job and now I needed to do mine. And that job wasn’t to find my happy life by living vicariously through my daughter but by showing her that I was happy with me. And now I’m able to lead her to finding her happiness as well. You and Angela are fantastic parents, people, and friends. Miss you and see you soon my friends. Love you
Thank you, dear friend. You guys are pretty wonderful yourselves. Looking forward to catching up in a very short while. Love you guys too!