I haven't written about my children for a while, so I figured I'd mention some things I learned from them lately. It's funny, we are so busy trying to teach them, and impart life lessons to them, that I think we forget that they teach us alot too.
Some changes that have happened at our house have brought about alot of change, and that is where I've seen some cool things happen. My wife went to work part time nights, and that means daddy has to be mr. mom for a while. (this has resulted in the frequent use of paper plates- I hate doing dishes!) Perhaps the first thing I have learned is that my wife definatly has the hardest, most tiring, most underappreciated job ever- being a stay at home mom!!! Anyway, this really kind of forced me to step it up, and help out at home more. It was actually very needed, because we were having some behavior problems with the boys. Nothing major, just stuff like not helping out, or taking responsibility for their things, alot of attitude with each other and with my wife, and typical boy stuff like that. This brings me to lesson number one. I think as fathers, we get so focused on rules, working, correcting, etc... that we forget to just be with our kids. Just spend time with them. After about two weeks, the boys had become so helpful. It got to the point where I didn't even have to ask them to help, they just did. Their attitude and respect towards each other had changed tremendously, and all of this started to carry over to when I wasn't home. They were being better for their mother too. It was an eye opening look into how much my presence, interest, and involvment in their lives, affected every aspect of our home lives. They needed to see me being more helpful around the house. Things have been fantastic!
I think another lesson I learned through all of this is that I don't give my oldest son enough credit. The kid is so talented and smart, it amazes me. I have made it a priority to talk with him, get to know him better, and reconnect with him. You know what I realized? He's got a good head on his shoulders. He's already thinking about college. He is starting to take school and music very seriously now. He has skills that will make him a great father, and alot of that came from the special bond he has with Emma. I was being so hard on him, that it was projecting behaviors and issues onto him that really weren't there. In lightening up, slowing down, and lisening to him, he's felt safe to come to me with some things he is struggling with. I never even realized he is still hurting from the babies we lost, or that he doesn't know how to connect with God, even though he desires too. He's also taught me that the examples I have set on dealing with grief, and loss, have set the tone for how they deal with it. We've had to work through some feelings of loss, sadness, and regret with the loss of my father. I showed them that I had to be strong, move forward, keep the family ok, but I never showed them that its ok to grieve too.
Another thing I learned from my kids is that we can't get stuck in places, feelings, or roles. My son Aiden was getting frustrated and lazy with some of his chores. It became so frustrating that he was getting punished for it. I finally asked him what is going on. He explained to me that just because he was the youngest doesn't mean I can't give him more important things to do. I was holding him back in essance, not letting him do certain things, or enjoy certain rewards for them, because I thought he was too young, or too lazy. I was expecting him to fail at things before I gave him a chance too!!!
And then comes Nathan. His heart is so beautiful. He hugs me everyday still, and even though he can talk your ear off, he needs that time, that attention. He's the one that has kind of forced me to slow down a bit. Funny story, after my father's death, my aunt gave me his chess set. It's a really nice one, and when I got it, I cleaned it, polished it, and then put it away, out of sight. One night Nathan asked me to play chess, and I said we can't, some of the pieces are missing from the boy's set. He said what about the one that was your dad's? I looked at him like he had suggested something outlandish, and said we can't play on that one, it was my fathers!!! He looked at me kind of confused, and said dad, why did you take it if you weren't gonna use it? He was so right! I was stuck in the emotions and grief that came with my father's death. It seems silly, but that chess set became a symbol. Something out of reach, inaccessable, kind of like my father. It was a very profound moment for me, and it really helped me put the grieving process in perspective.
And then there is my Emma. She makes me so happy. I have come to realize that despite my protest, she is growing up. She is speaking so much now, making decisions on her own, expressing herself more, and is even potty trained!!! It kind of grieves my heart because I so love our times together, and our dances, and our songs-and someday, those will all be memories. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned lately is that time is moving forward, whether I like it or not. These last few months reconnecting on a deeper level with my kids has been great, and when they are grown, with families of their own, I'll be glad I cherished every minute!