Adventures Of Fatherhood

A reader forwarded me an interesting quote last week about parenting.
It was by American writer William Saroyan, who wrote, “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
That hit home for me and my wife as I presume it does for most parents.
While I like to think I am playing a key role in teaching my children how to approach life and navigate through the trials and tribulations they will inevitably confront, they are unknowingly showing me how to live. That’s something I came to embrace during the unique transition into parenthood.
I don’t know if it will always be this way, but I view my life in two clear divisions — Before Children (BC) and After Children (AC).
Although it may not have seemed that way at the time, life was incredibly simple BC. It was easy to just work and then fill the evenings and weekends however I wished, whether it will be with more fun, hanging with friends, hitting the gym or just doing nothing.
At that time, I took independence for granted and had no knowledge of what it was like to juggle multiple aspects of my personal affairs at one time.
Without question, life in the AC period is much more complicated and doing nothing is a foreign concept, but this is when “our children teach us what life is all about,” as Saroyan wrote.
My kids remind, and require, me to live in the moment. They don’t do it with their words or actions, as they are not quite that perspicacious at their current ages of 5 and 3 years old.
Beckett and Carson are simply focused on the now and subsequently so are we. That’s a good thing.
I’m a planner and a thinker by nature. That’s why I opened up a college savings account for the kids as soon as they were born and why I started planning for my retirement the week after I graduated from college. While I think it’s a good thing to think ahead, my kids remind me constantly how I must live in the moment more often.
We are too busy not to approach life that way. There’s too much to focus on with the day ahead to dwell on something weeks, months or years away, although I still sneak in some planning here and there.
There are the multiple school drop-offs and pickups. There are soccer practices, doctor’s appointments, haircuts, baths, lunches to prepare, homework to be done, bike riding lessons and laundry to tend to each day. Mix in with all that the requisite family time and there’s little time left to squeeze in anything else.
What my kids together have taught me is to be selfless. There is no time to be selfish when it comes to parenting. It’s all about the kids and their needs and wants, and that’s how it should be.
Life is so simple in my boys’ eyes and I enjoy that about them. They wake up happy and energetic and usually maintain that disposition and active style throughout the day. There are challenges along the way, of course, but that comes with the territory.
In their own way, both my sons teach me more than they realize about how I should lead my life.
Although he does not speak, Carson still has a tremendous amount to share. He just does it differently. When he can’t verbalize what he needs to, he will shrug his shoulders in a seemingly disappointed fashion. It’s heart breaking to see that frustration. There is something preventing him from speaking and we are doing everything we can to discover the reason(s). In the meantime, Carson works so hard every day and is a true inspiration to us.
When I observe him working with his therapists at Easter Seals, I feel tremendous pride. He is trying with all his might to overcome the obstacles in front of him. He gets discouraged. He gets upset and tired, but Carson, 3, always keeps trying and that inspires me more than he will ever realize. He is able to conquer more in a day than I am and he has taught me that anything is possible by how far he has come since he was born under some daunting circumstances. He was born an underachiever with special needs, but has been overachieving every day since through a solid work ethic.
Unlike his little brother, Beckett, 5, has been rocking ever since he was born. Beckett reminds me that passion is a must. He approaches just about everything with a zeal that I admire, whether it’s body boarding in the ocean, clearing the table, running into school or getting a bath.
Beckett is charismatic and entertaining. He is an extrovert who craves attention and enjoys nothing more than having an attentive person to engage in conversation with.
While he is a high-energy boy, he also displays an uncanny understanding of sentimentality. That’s why when we are in the ocean and a nearby kid or adult gets pummeled by a wave he stops everything he’s doing and runs over to lend a hand and make sure the person is okay. That’s why when a classmate trips and falls he is quick to rush over help him or her up. I love that about him.
One thing we always try and show our kids is their parents are not perfect. It’s not difficult to do because it’s on display for them each day.
I lose my temper. I get frustrated. I say things I regret. I stress out. I get overwhelmed. However, I also hug and kiss ad love.
I’m a mess most of the time, but I’m learning a lot from my kids and they are constantly reminding me how to approach life and requiring me to remember what it’s “all about.”