When I was little I wanted little to do with my dad. He was wonderful and kind and knew just the way to do my hair for dance class, but I eagerly anticipated my mom’s return home. He loved me regardless. At the age of thirty, I finally figured out that I could love my dad through projects and road trips. It wasn’t the same kind of snuggly, chatty love I shared with my mom, but equally as profound.
My mind jumped to the thirty year wait ahead before Freya and I would have the relationship I longed for. I tried to model the same beautiful routines and relationship her birth mom Laura had developed, but I always felt as if I were falling short; time with me was the consolation prize.
There were no “how to books”. Tears dripped down my face as I prayed lonely prayers. My saving grace were the afternoons when I was the only parent home, slowly connecting, building trust, charting our own path.
Parenting is humbling, all of it. I set out with visions of idealic strolls through the park, sweet cuddles and cherub like grins. Then I was thrown into the role of non-bio Mom with an infant who only wanted my wife.
Contrary to my fears, Freya and I found our own kind of love while she was still small. It began as soon as I was able to let go of the image in my head of how our relationship “should be” by making huge baking messes in the kitchen and painting together in my studio. While her public admiration is usually reserved for my wife, our late night chats and back scratches are something that Freya and I share with a unique sweetness. Our love is different, but equally profound.
I have learned that sometimes love comes sweeping in, other times it builds to grand heights over time. Regardless of love’s pace, letting go of what a mother/child relationship “should be” in exchange for authentic connections will win every time. Sometimes, it will even result in a batch of cupcakes.
I recently lost my head over a minor comment from a good friend. After a bit of distance, I realized it wasn’t the comment but rather the overwhelming pace of my life from which the comment came. We spend so much of our lives focusing on the thing right in front of us; whether it be a person, a challenge or the traffic light. Ironically, when we are looking for deep understanding, it is only by considering the background that we will truly comprehend the context from which our subject arrives.
What is in the background in front of you?
My wife has a dry, sarcastic, sense of humor. While I appreciate the art, I don’t know how to dish it back. Thankfully my best friend’s husband is the king of sarcasm. Their banter and smiles commence before they are fully out of their cars. Their repartee, is like a perfectly written script. As an audience member, I realized it had been way too long since the stage had been set for this performance in which we were all perfectly cast, and incredibly content.
How do we make time for the company that makes us smile to our toes?
Today I biked by a church that advertised Sunday services starting at 10:40 am. I have a feeling this congregation does not have many stragglers. It is one thing to show up at 10:05 for a 10 am service, but it seems as though a 10:43 arrival for something that starts at 10:40 would be incredibly awkward. This made me think: How can we be bold enough to identify, then state our exact expectations for a given outcome whether with children, colleagues or family? How would that specificity effect our everyday lives? In the meanwhile, how can we be direct without be offensive?
Marriage is weird
On a rare occasion, I love terrible T.V. Most recently, that means: “Married at First Sight.” The idea is that three U.S. couples marry someone that “the experts” have arranged for them. It made me start to think about how odd marriage it is: you meet someone, then as a rule, you make a deal that you will treat each other differently than you would treat anyone else. In a way, each one of our relationships is like a marriage of sorts. There are unwritten rules on how to treat colleagues, friends, house guests and elevator partners… Whether in a marriage or in a meeting, following the rules leads to a larger chance of success.
Here’s the question: How do we learn the rules?
I was going for comfort when I grabbed an “Ithaca is Gorges” T-shirt and cargo pants to wear this morning. While this is practically my wife’s uniform, the outfit felt so odd to me, I found myself in my room, changing clothes a couple of hours later. This laundry making experience made me realize that no one can label “comfort” for us. Whether a job, a relationship or a pair of pants, we are the only ones who can decide what (and who) puts us at ease.
What ( or who) makes you feel at ease?
My dear friend happened to mention that today is her wedding anniversary. She is also in the midst of raising young children and navigating end of the school year activities. I totally got it when she said that maybe they would try to go out to dinner sometime this week and that chances were good they might get to look at each other before the end of the night ( a special occasion.) There was no talk of a fancy night out or exotic gifts. This totally warmed my heart because I get it. We are in this life stage together.
What warms your heart these days?