Sunday, 7 February 2016
When The Past Stares Back
I find looking at old photo albums a good way of regaining perspective. I don't do it often. Probably not as often as I should. It's like glancing back down a railroad, seeing how far I've journeyed, and it leaves me melancholy as I'm reminded that I cannot go back. Seeing my daughters as young children, joyous and full of wonder is both a delight and a sadness all at once. As they grow I can see how the world begins to place additional burdens upon them, squeezing out the childlike wonder and seeking to make them conform. I hope they find the courage and resolve to be the women they want to be and not simply a generic cut and paste of how they think they should be. I'm reminded of what a beautiful, joyous thing a happy and secure childhood is. I was fortunate enough to have this; I hope when they look back they will feel similar. As for me, these old images, these snapshots of my past exist to remind me that I've much to be proud of. Much to be thankful for. I've been so fortunate to have met an amazing lady who's commitment and dignity has given our home stability and safety. In my work I see relationships flounder and oftentimes witness the ensuing destruction. Families torn apart, childhood innocence shattered. It angers and saddens me at the same time. Now I don't know whether I'm a good dad; in fact I'm sure I could be a better one. But I love my family and consider it my duty and privilege to provide for them, shelter them, and create a safe space in which my girls can discover who they are. When I'm old I hope they laugh with me as well as at me. I hope they'll smile and hug me when they come visit, and perhaps they can tell funny stories to their children. I'd love that. It'd make me happy in my heart. I'm not the wisest of men and I'll never be the font of all knowledge. But I hope they'll understand that I wanted to give them stability and safety and a harbour when the storms came. Should add that I'm not really trying to say anything particular today; I just wanted to splurge my thoughts down in the moment so to speak. I have no great wisdom to venture other than to encourage the dads reading this to have some sense of what a privilege it is to raise daughters and son's, to see them grow from tiny acorns into mighty oaks. And if I was to measure my success when I reach my final days, a big part of my estimation would be based on how I did as a parent. Was I steadfast? Did I communicate just how much I loved them? Was I consistent and generous and affirming? If they can answer in the affirmative, then I know that I've done something of which I can be proud.