For me it was a perfect day. My family was together, we enjoyed a beautiful day and swimming in the pool, (something we didn’t do all last summer) we BBQ’d and played games to cap off the night.
A Perfect Day For An Imperfect Father
Kathy and I are often asked about how we parented our kids who are now 21 & 19. To be honest, I think they have often made us look better than we were. I am very proud of who they are for sure; but maybe in spite of our parenting as much as because of it.
Regardless, from the very beginning we were intentional about who we wanted to be as parents and what kind of family we envisioned. Before Megan was born we participated in parenting courses, read books and talked to parents who were ahead of us.
Eventually though, you just have to get in the game. Apparently even when you don’t want to. Let’s go back in time.
Kathy and I got married with the understanding that we would not have children. Not that we couldn’t, but that we wouldn’t. I won’t go into the details here, but that was a very clear expectation for me.
We didn’t talk about children much, as it was understood that we just weren’t having them. In fact, 5 years into our marriage, we affirmed our commitment to that end while on a vacation…it was the summer of ’94. I brought it up just to be sure that we were still on the same page…we weren’t having children.
To make a long story short, I think our commitment and celebration of said commitment actually lead to Megan.
That Fall I was in my final year of Seminary and one day I returned home from classes in Toronto to be greeted by Kathy who was crying uncontrollably. I had no idea what was going on when she said, “I have something I have to tell you.”
My mind started racing and I didn’t like where it was going. Did someone die? Did she have an affair? I had no idea. Until she calmed down long enough to say, “I’m pregnant.”
“Honey, I’m Pregnant”
Oh man, I was relieved. Of all the things I thought she might say, being pregnant wasn’t one of them, but I’m glad it was. Maybe at first because it was better than all the other options I had come up with.
So Megan was born 3 weeks after I graduated from Seminary. Life would never be the same and 5 minutes later she is 21 and Alex is 19.
And this Fathers Day I am grateful.
My life is richer because they are a part of it
I didn’t want children for selfish reasons. I didn’t want to parent a child who potentially could be like me. All I was thinking about was me. But I didn’t realize at the time, that my life would be richer because of them.
I remember watching the kids play in the local park…they were about 7 & 5. I was with my mentor when I asked him, “How to help them avoid the kind of life I lived as a teenager?”
He was very gracious in his response by suggesting that I already had by the way I parented them and loved them. While I appreciated his kind words I wasn’t confident that the next 10 years would not be extremely difficult.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It requires so much of you…and that’s the best part. Children need you in different ways at different stages of their lives. You learn more about them and you learn more about yourself too.
I have loved every stage…and each one is better than the last. I wouldn’t want to go back. I look forward to what’s next. I love watching them grow and change.
Parenting is hard work that doesn’t always seem to pay off in the moment. And we’ve had our challenges as a family for sure. But I am grateful for the privilege of raising two children. I’m a better person and my life has been richer because they are in it.
The world is better because they are in it
Megan & Alex not only make our family better, they make the world better. For me, the most important part of their school report cards were the evaluations at the end. Not their grades but how they interacted with others, with teachers etc. Their character was more important than their grades.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids aren’t perfect. Their dad isn’t perfect and neither are they. But I am grateful for the way they choose to live their lives. I still learn from them. In some ways I need to become more like them. And I’m okay with that.
While the list of things I would like a “do over” for is long, on this Fathers Day, I am grateful. Grateful that my plans to not have a family were thwarted by a greater plan. And grateful for children that have made my life richer and the world better.