There is so much that I could and should say. The “how-to” train of thought doesn’t necessarily run in one direction when it comes to being a Dad. I have stood on the outside and I have stood on the inside, and I have found that no matter where you stand, the position of being a Dad is fill with millions of mixed messages. Do this, do that, say this, don’t say that, be firm, be gentle, hold tight, let go, be strong…..cry. But, now that your young years have flown by, I look back…with my own mixed views…to the times I did good and the times that I let you all down.
It seems that no matter how a person views the role of being a Dad, there will always be personal self-reflection that points out the times when things could have been done differently. I can’t say whether or not I have more than other Dads. I think that I do, but I guess it really comes down to perspective. From the time that you were born, the thoughts of “what do I do” seemed to be a daily occurrence. Sadly, I never got a definitive answer. Mixed messages came from everywhere. It was from a barrage of ideas, thoughts, and world-views that I would sort through and try to mix in my own gut feeling to come up with a “proper” fatherly direction. Sadly, I have to admit, consistency was never there for each of you and probably added to the chaos in your lives.
You each had strong personalities that brought color and variety to life. Trying to cater to the ever-changing tides of interest was, to say the least, a challenge! We tried the sports, we tried the music. We tried for academics and we tried for talents. So many areas to expose you to, was there some that were missed? I believe there was. But Dad’s are supposed to know. To have the answers ready when the questions come. To be able to guide and direct you to the correct paths that each of you should follow in your journey to being adults. I was never really sure myself…you each have so many gifts!
Dad’s are also supposed to be able to adapt to any situation. Be strong during times of fear and uncertainty. Be bold in knowing what is and what isn’t when it comes to life’s challenges. Be a foundation that is always unshaken during life’s storms. Be the encouragement to all of your ambitions in life. The 20/20 hindsight is clear in understanding that you didn’t always get that Dad. The times when I should have been were probably the times when I was slow in sorting through the “what is a Dad supposed to do” messages. Believe me when I tell you that my heart was always the Dad you needed, but the mind was slow in giving you that person right away. Missed moments.
Now that you are all above the High School line of measurement, life for each of you will hit on all sides. The ups and downs will come and you may be in a position where you need to rely on lessons from your youth. I hope that those are the lessons that were filled with consistency and solid truths. You see, in the Dad manual (that doesn’t exist), there are too many variables that make knowing absolutes impossible. And since this Dad was filled with so many differing “answers”, I never did get a chance to figure out which way was the right way. If only I had more time, more resources, or…better yet…more involvement.
There is one constant from all the mixed messages out there on how to be a Dad. It is simply to be there. Be involved. Be a presence in your children’s lives. That “how-to” was lost in all the chaos of my mind. Years later, it had finally come through the fog, but regrettably in the closing hours of your childhood. The phrase “missed the boat” rings louder with each passing day.
I can’t pretend to know what each of think when you look back on your years growing up, but on those moments when you wonder to yourself, ‘where was Dad”, please know that I was there, trying to get the answers you needed…it just took longer than I had hoped for. My wish is for your understanding.