Tuesday, July 26, 2011

81 Months

Kids are exhausting! Sometimes they knock me down, kick me in the ass, push me around, make me crazy, dumbfound me, shock me, cause curses to rain from my mouth, force the red veil of damnation to cloud my vision, make my blood boil, terrify me, pull down on my neck with the heavy burden of responsibility, test my patience, again and again and again. Sometimes they make me cry because I have nothing left to give. Sometimes they cause me to absolutely lose my temper, to the point of despair where my head tells me to wait but my body is going going going to the limit, raging and taking it out on them in some overt psychological display that will probably stain their reflections of me once they've grown out of their little frames. Sometimes I lose track of my heart when I'm around my children because they wipe me out!

And the worst part about all of this is that sometimes my kids know it. They are acutely aware that they can manipulate me by pushing on the frayed edge of my sanity with their relentless energy that I am growing unable to handle at times. They just go go go, push push push, shout shout shout and spin me rapidly out of the calm shadow that I wish to hide within. Just give me a moment, please. Some time to rest and catch my breath. Just let me have some space so that I can reconnect the delicate hooks that hold together the lost imaginings of togetherness that consumes the musings of capacity that help me believe in my unlimited capabilities. Let me hold onto that precious faith just for a moment. Please.

I'm not sure that they do it consciously or with determination. No, I don't think that it's that sinister. I just know that there is a part of them that smirks at the weakness in human nature, that swoops down with vultured wings to pick at the soft flesh huddling at the side of the road. It's not as malicious as it sounds, just that lower self that revels in the miserly contempt toward life. We all have it. We all understand it a little bit and we all have the choice about whether or not we wish to act on it.

Lucas acts on it sometimes and I must say that it sometimes causes me to act accordingly, which really means that I respond in much the same manner. The reaction that I then receive back from him is never something that fills my heart with pride, but there are times that I just don't care any more. Not to the extent that I continue the behavior without regard for his feelings but stern enough that his calls for comfort are left in the passenger seat. Those are the times he gets a long lecture from Daddy. You see, I'm pretty good at lecturing my children when my mind has sharpened for confrontation. It's a part of my nature that kicks into gear when a conflict arises that needs my attention but in the case of my son crossing a line that I'm not happy about...well, let's just say that I often bring out the whetting stone.

I must say that I never lose my mind enough that I knock him around or anything as terrible as that, acts that make my blood curdle, but I definitely have given him the voice. The one he hates. The one that reminds him how small he can become. It's always a moment that I grow to regret because I recognize this voice. It's one that I hated when I was Lucas's age and it also made me feel so small every time it pointed in my direction. I will never be happy when I make my boy feel that way. My heart aches at the memory of his tangled face conflicted with urgent thoughts and anxious attempts to squirm away from the spotlight that has descended upon him. Lucas is so much like me in that way, if only to escape the pressure of failure for a brief instance so that we may recover from the madness. Something we are totally capable of, recovering from the shock of cold water upon our brains, just give me a moment so that I can feel the warmth again.

This is my struggle as a father. How do I make sure that my actions are helping my children grow beyond their limitations? And that doesn't just mean the times when they want to run and hide, an obvious weakness that most of us have to deal with. It also means that I need to find a way to respond to them in profoundly positive ways when they are feeding the mean wolf, the evil demon within that wants to push at people to knock them astray. Demeaning Lucas so that he despises his own skin will never allow him to confront the bad behavior that caused me to demean him in the first place. It will only cause him to push down those impulses until they want to break free some day, possibly years from now when my guidance may not matter so much anymore. That would be a horrible mistake because he would spend too long sifting through the sad ashes of unhappiness until he somehow manages to clean away the muck enough to stand up for himself. A tragic road that so many of us travel, a journey I made myself, and there are even some who never manage raise themselves up.

No, I definitely do not want that for Lucas.

So even when we are exhausted and at the end of our rope, we must remember that there is so much that is precious in the children that we have. We must try to discover the delight and magic within them that fills us with so much joy. We must nourish the light that shines out of their beautiful hearts. It is the beacon that will bear gifts, of amazing people who will shape the future landscape into a wonderful place that brings happiness more often than despair. With this vision we are reminded that our efforts to be good parents will not go in vain, no matter how many times they make our tired bodies collapse into bed with a beggar's prayer upon our lips.

"Please, protect these precious gifts that have been bestowed upon us by the universe. May my guidance help fulfill the glorious aspirations that we wish for their lives, so that their dreams may contain the deep possibilities of hope."

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