The Art of Being a Dad...
continues into the late teenager worlds.
Wow... time flies. I have not posted for a year. Life is so full, multi-dimensional, simple and complex at the time. And my girls...they just keep growing, and are now both moving away from home.
They say one of our jobs as parents is to create independence in our kids, get them out of the house when it's appropriate, love them, bless 'em, and hope they have a great life.
I was inspired by my kids and I started writing, drawing, and painting them when they were wee little ones. The older one is 19. When was still in mama's belly when I started a journal for her which I'll give her when she's 21. The little one is now 16.
So... a beautiful 23-year-marriage to their mom completed itself on great terms almost 2 years ago. My wife (x, whatever she should be called - past partner?) is a writer. Recently she came up with a great analogy of what we did when we separated.
"We took the plant out of the pot," she told me, "and we put it in the garden so it could continue to grow." It was root bound, she said. And she was right, we out-grew the confines, the pot of our marriage. And we're still growing, now even more. We are healthy, still connected, and still a very loving family.
It was a good time to change the family configuration. The girls were both in high school, both aware of what was happening because we've always been a really open family - we talked about it - we stayed connected. We always told the girls age-appropriate information about our marriage, the family, and our home. And we used therapists when needed. My wife and I were in therapy almost all of our entire life together. We acquired incredibly useful communication tools. In the end there just wasn't much to work on - a job well done. We both get gold stars for all our hard work and honesty, proud of us both and without collateral damage.
I moved out of the house, but stayed close by, and returned to being the artist that I am and who I have evolved back into. I sacrificed a great deal, like all parents do to be a dad, husband, and house owner. We co-parented in a really good way. When the kids were little I was the playful parent. I just get little kids (and animals), I understand them, and can play and goof with them and also get them to clean up after themselves in between watching the old Star Wars movies.
But then when my girls got into puberty and when breasts and periods and shopping and looking in the mirror took over, I was relieved that they moved over into their mom's realm of knowledge. My job wasn't over of course. I knew it was still important to "see them," to mirror back what I saw so that they knew I had, and have, their backs. I still do this. I see them at home a lot and we hang out. And now they are scattering to the winds. The older one is in college in Colorado, and the little one is leaving high school early (got to a point where she couldn't stand the scene) and she’ll go to 2 alternative schools out of the state, ending her high school education with college credits. Good on them both!
And as much as I love my girls, I also love my life as a single man and working professional artist in the world. In a sense I am not a dad anymore, not a 24/7 dad with little people who want and need me. I know I have done good. I can see it in their eyes, I can hear it in their voices and what they say, and I can see into their hearts and I can see love for self and love for others, and life.
I just heard on the radio a football coach who was describing what it is to be a man (apologies for not being able to credit him) - it's actually what it is to be a real human.
"To Love and Be Loved, and to Be of Service."
I'm curious where my girls will go and what they will do. I heard from Michael Meade (amazing storyteller) that we should ask young people this question (without really needing an answer, just ask the question.. for years). "Who are You and Why Are Your Here?" This really bugged my girls over the years, but I sense it's working. A radar pings every time it’s asked; a parent’s soft and gentle voice asking for the unique genius of our children to emerge so that they can see it and live from that place.
Creative Blessings and Dad Shout Outs ~
~the first seven years
complete with ToolBox of Tips, Tools, and Tricks of the Trade