“So Dad, at what age should I start dating boys?”
Although spoken in a regular conversational tone, those words from my eldest daughter, exploded against my auditory receptors approximately 10 years ago. It happened during one of those occasions when it was just two of us driving in the car. The fact that I am here telling this story is not so much a testament to my driving skills, (I managed not to swerve off of the road), but more to do with what I truly believe is God’s Grace.
Fast forward to the present day – as I write this I am sitting in the living room of the condominium where my daughter and her husband of six months now reside. The time juxtaposition between that 10 year old query and now, is both jarring and serene. The same can be said for my two younger children. Although they are not currently married, they are both adults and they too have, and still are being transported through life with deep questions of their own. Some have been answered; others are yet to be.
As a father, I am acutely aware of my deep-seated desire to be able to provide any and everything necessary for my children. A significant portion of that responsibility has been transferred to my eldest daughter’s husband. It is now his mandate to be her covering in all aspects. I still love and pray for her, but my daughter’s lifestream baton that I had been carrying since her birth, has now been transferred to her husband.
An admitted unsettling fact, for me at least, is that I will never be able to be perfectly successful at being a parent. Which then begs the question; what is the litmus test of successful parenting? Yes, it is unrealistic to expect perfection of yourself (or others for that matter), but human nature being what it is, we tend to wrestle with things that evoke conflicting emotions. I have since come to realize that it is not so much a matter of being perfect as being consistent in my efforts. If you fail, and you will, then try again. Oh, one other thing; learning to forgive yourself is also a challenging, but necessary requirement.
As you get older, there is an inevitable increase in frequency of mulling over your life’s accomplishments; or lack thereof. You also start thinking about what you will leave behind. I have learned that legacies are not as tangible as we make them out to be. While I may not have a trust fund of Bill Gates’proportions to bequeath to my children, I desire to see them successful in all of their endeavours. Yes materially, but more importantly, socially, and spiritually. Material wealth is not a requirement for a balanced and well adjusted lifestyle.
Our family has suffered through loss and we have experienced joy. Those tangible intangibles will be with all of us until our final breath. Looking back on what has transpired over my life, while looking forward to what is yet to be, provides an opportunity for me to gain perspective on my purpose(s) in life. Some are easily defined; (work – pay bills – put food on the table). Others, while not as definitively substantial, I believe have more weight. Showing compassion to others; teaching others through your life experiences; acquiring spiritual equilibrium; understanding sacrifice; loving unconditionally, just to name a few.
I have discovered one aspect of who I am though, and that is through defining the correlation of who I love and who I am loved by. That gives me confidence in understanding who I am yet to become.
Psalm 129: v14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.