Tag Archives: fatherhood

Sweet Success

chocolate chip cookies

Probably one of the best things my parents did they didn’t so much “do” as “allow”. My older brother makes plans work, and around the age of 8 or 9 he figured he and I could make money (I was two years younger than him) by making chocolate chip cookies and selling them from our dad’s desk at his office. And so we did.

It was work, making dozens and dozens of cookies a few times a week, figuring out the perfect recipe and being consistent in making it correctly, purchasing the ingredients from profits we’d made. We sold mostly from our dad’s desk for $.25 per cookie, and we fulfilled a few special orders for large batches that friends took to meetings. And we made enough money to buy a boat. A real, honest to goodness, goes-on-water-and-we-fit-inside boat. Granted, it was only $300, but it was 12′ long and came with two outboard motors and accessories. The sense of accomplishment stays with me.

How many parents today would allow their kids to do that? I’d lay my 7-year-old sense of accomplishment against any degree any day in terms of what it brought me regarding how I view work, the real meaning of success, happiness, and fulfillment, and what it takes to succeed in life.

 

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A Morning On The Lake

Adventure awaits
Adventure awaits

Two tousled boys roll sleepily out of bed, pull on their clothes quietly and fill their waterproof bag with Costco muffins.

It’s early Monday morning. Very early.

The fog lies heavy on the lake as they push the canoe into the still, mirror-like waters. The shore recedes quickly and is soon hidden in the pressing cloud.

The mirrored surface shows ripples only from where the canoe has passed and the paddles have gently broken it. The boys, hushed reverently in the tabernacle of nature, speak softly and dip their oars gently.

A duck is seen and quickly lost again.

The lake is large, several miles long and maybe a mile wide at it’s widest, so there is plenty for the boys to explore.

And explore they do.

In one finger of the lake they find a rock protruding scant inches above the surface of the water. The shore is nowhere near. The boys stand on the rock, austerely surveying the surrounding water and the unique situation of standing on such a small patch of land surrounded by so much water.

Several hours have passed now and the sun is now burning away the fog. There are others on the lake. Fishermen and kayakers and people with money enough to pleasure boat on Monday now join the boys and their small canoe is rocked in the wake of the madly rushing power boats and early morning skiers.

There is no more mystery to the lake as the fog is no longer shrouding them, instead it is awash with adventure as they must pilot their frail craft across the sparkling and dancing lake through the increasing traffic on this beautifully sunlit morning.

But now time calls. They must return home to continue with the day’s plans.

With deep regret and great satisfaction the boys pull the canoe clear of the water line and return to the house.

Looking back, this is perhaps the most iconic event of my life and I’m not even really sure why.

It was a good morning of young manhood with an acquaintance I’d not really spent much time with before. But we became friends that day, and in the week that followed we were pals.

The freedom and adventure of the canoe, the lake, the fog, and us surmounting all to stand successful in our achievement of adventure are all crystallized in my memory.

I miss that day perhaps more than any other in my life.

I’m glad that day happened and that it’s a good and powerful memory to me.

With my children I hope to create such memories, and yet not be selfish enough to believe they can all be with me. There are many good times for a father to create memories with his children, and yet perhaps even more powerful are the times the father allows his children to make memories on their own.

My dad was nowhere near when I ventured on the lake with my friend, and while I treasure many memories with my dad, he played no part in that particular one.

Good Father

Fatherhood is manly
Fatherhood is manly

I’ve been surprised of late at the sources and volume of negative or, at best, ambivalent feelings towards fathers and fatherhood.

My wife is getting involved in the ladies ministry at our church and there was a coffee and tea get together Saturday morning. My wife was planning several errands for the morning and so I was left caring for young William. So long as we have milk pumped and bottled he is quite alright with me. More importantly, I’m willing and able and responsible, as I am his father.

I’m no superhero, nor do I have any special ability beyond the normal. I’m not much of an outlier in this respect, I believe.

Rather, I consider myself normal.

I’m a normal man who has taken responsibility for his family, his wife and their child.

I work to support them financially, bu my responsibility does not end at 5pm Friday.

I’m a father, not just a breadwinner. A father is so much more than a breadwinner.

I’m a diaper changer, a dish washer, a laundromat, a soft shoulder, a chauffeur, a burp rag, a comic, a stereo, a counselor, a pastor, a manager, a confidant, a firm hand. I am whatever necessary to ensure both the macro- and micro-progress of my family towards our goal of bringing more glory to God and achieving greater Godliness mutually and individually.

I am capable and willing.

I’m not expert or perfect.

For the men who don’t think themselves capable: grow a pair, man up, find your spine. You’re capable of what you choose to be.

For the mothers who haven’t tried letting go and letting dad: he’ll grow into whatever you lovingly and with support allow him become, including dad.

For detractors and cynics everywhere of every stripe: leave. You’re not wanted. Your words only condemn another generation to fatherless failure. Your ideas enslave millions more in the stifling mire of your small minds and minuscule dreams.

Mothers are not superior, and neither are fathers. Both are needed and necessary for normative growth in children. Both are prone to failure.

It is no secret, except to those remaining willfully ignorant and despicable for it, that mothers are as capable of abuse as fathers, and for societies failure to accept it, becoming frighteningly more common.

In fact, it is the union of the two fallible, failed, faltering parents, both the mother and father together, who are most capable of lifting each other beyond their individual limitations and shortcomings. Not to achieve perfection, but to achieve the greater potential of success in whatever goal they have chosen.

And isn’t that what we’re all striving for?

So father, free yourself of the false notion of your incurable frailty and seize the mantel of manhood and be a father.

And mother, relinquish the idea of fatherly failure and instead build up and encourage and then step back and allow the man in your husband to thrive as it fills out the form of fatherhood.

Idiot Dad

While the world burns around me:

And I’m upset over a movie.

An early 90’s comedy even.

Father of the Bride, billed as good clean family fun.

It’s dangerous, folks.

I even got a few laughs in before it just got so bad I couldn’t even laugh at the, few, funny parts any more.

The father is an idiot. No self-control. Few moral qualms. He’s the butt of every joke, and not in a nice way either.

He is not wise or caring.

He has no personal charisma or drive that should make us want for him to mature and grow through the movie.

And his character is inconsistant and false. He runs a successful business, has the adoration of his children and wife, and adores them in return. Yet he sneaks and fears and bumbles about like a complete fool.

The “here he goes again” looks from his wife are supposed to evoke further chuckles, but I couldn’t.

What good does this kind of portrayal do?

Is the only purpose of this movie to make us laugh? It failed at that. The “humor” was too shameful.

Consistently, the other characters are smart and likeable and have depth and a future. It’s the dad we’re supposed to laugh at.

And supposedly Steve Martin is good at that.

As Inspector Clouseau, it’s a good thing. He’s supposed to be an idiot hero, a hapless savior.

But when he is portrayed as an “everyman” and a father it’s ugly and terrible.

As a husband and expectant father I took personal offense and umbrage at this portrayal of what I aspire to.

I’m no fool taking my queues from Hollywood. My dad and my heavenly Father are quite enough for me to aspire to, thank you very much.

But what about those who do not have a father or who do not yet know their heavenly Father? The father on the silver screen may be their only target.

What responsibility is borne for those who see this dad and despair because they recognize his idiocy and the fun had lampooning his foolhardy attempts to be involved in his daughters wedding?

The only victories he achieves occur when he gives up.

In real life, the only victory that occurs that way is the most important one: salvation. Everything else requires determination and purpose.

I’m not planning on being an idiot dad, and so I’ll gladly forget Father of the Bride and heartily recommend against anybody seeing that abomination.

Is it entertainment when fatherhood is played for the fool?

Daddy Contemplations

Now that the cat is out of the bag (or the kid out of the, um… yea), I can admit that contemplating fatherhood has me scared stiff.

Well, not really, but in a manner of speaking.

It is one thing to say the words “I’m not ready for fatherhood” in much the same way I said “I’m not ready for marriage” and quite another thing to actually mean it or grasp the idea that there will be a helpless little baby needing my wife and my care for it’s every need. Then growing and growing, becoming more independent and self-willed, maturing and growing older, learning and absorbing, and then leaving.

And God has tasked me with the primary responsibility for the childs spiritual growth and nuturing. My wife and I for teaching the child and loving them and providing stability and security such as we can while allowing freedom and experiences to broaden the childs horizons and abilities.

I haven’t the slightest clue…

If you’re a parent: What is one thing that you are glad you did and one thing you regret or wish you’d not done? And why?

Everybody is a child of someone: What is something you are glad your parents did and one thing you wish they hadn’t? And why?