Friday, August 24, 2012

An open letter to my children

To my children,

When I first married your mother, having children was not yet in the front of my mind.  I guess the thought of having a child wasn’t a real thought, but more of a possibility that it could happen some day.  Then one day I received a phone call while at work.  It was your mother calling to tell me that she was pregnant.  

I recall the conversation, or lack thereof, very well.  I was somewhat in shock, not knowing what to say or how to react.  Your mother was very excited and I didn't know what to say.  I sat on the phone in silence while Mom was questioning my happiness with the news!  After assuring her I was happy as well, I hung up and sat down at my work station.
I worked in a department where I was the only guy.  There were about 40 people in my immediate area and I was the only dude!  Not only was I the only guy, I was by far the youngest, with most of the ladies in the department 35 and older.  I was 20.  
After sitting down, the lady behind me asked if everything was OK.  She apparently picked up on my body language while on the phone.  I turned around and told her quietly that your Mom was pregnant.  Not expecting it to go any further, she proceeded to turn around to the entire department and loudly announce that I was going to be a father!  The place erupted in shrieks and howls.  It was then that it hit me.  The happiness of the thought of becoming a father started to sink in.  I was going to be a dad.

So nine months later Emily, you were born.  Standing in the hospital room holding you, marveling in the thought that you were a creation that I was a part of was quite overwhelming.  The amount of love I felt was beyond what I had ever experienced before.  There was also a large amount of pride to have such a beautiful daughter.  And then it was time to take you home...

The drive home was a long one.  You cried the entire time.  I'll admit that this was a bit unnerving!  While going through the pregnancy period, your thoughts of parenthood are all blue sky and puppies!  There are no hard times!!!  So what's up with this? We got home and calmed you down and proceeded to "show you off" to friends and family.  It was a pretty cool time.  

You grew and we adjusted, mostly, and you know what happened when you were 10 months old.  I don't need to go into the details as you know them already, but it was a really trying time for me and your mom.  We had already been under a lot of stress because I had lost my job shortly after you were born and the new job I had was not paying well, so money was pretty tight.  The combination of a low paying job and missing hours because I was at the hospital with you only compounded the issue.  You came through that time beautifully and courageously and soon it was time for a sibling.
Christina, you came into the world in perfect harmony with your personality.  Full of energy and ready to go!  It was only 45 minutes from the time we arrived at the hospital to the time you were born!  And in the fashion typical for you, at 1 day old you were trying to hold your head up!  Already trying to be involved to see what was going on!  

Bringing you home was a little easier than it was for your sister.  Mainly because we had some experience in dealing with a baby.  I've often told your sister that she was the "guinea pig".  It's part of the deal when you are a first born.  The 3 of us adjusted pretty well to having you in the home.  Your sister was very proud to be a big sister.  She was a very protecting and mothering big sister.

You two grew and matured and handled the family changes very well.  Your mother and I were very proud of you two.  You were both very good children.  While there were challenges along the way, there is no father more proud of his children than I am of you two.

A number of years later, we were once again blessed with a child.  Jeremiah, you joined the family on Christmas Day.  Our best Christmas present ever!  While your sisters have both reached adulthood, you are still in your teens, still growing into a man.  You have a wonderful heart and I look forward to watching you grow into that man.

Looking back over the past 26 years of being a father, I can't help to feel an incredibly vast ocean of emotions.  As a parent, you have a vision of how things should be, but life has a way of happening and changing that vision.  While I have no regrets, I do have many disappointments in my own life.  

I find it difficult to put into words, but as a parent, you want to do everything you can for your child.  To give them everything they want, to protect them from all hurts and to never let them experience disappointment.  Now we all know that this is not reality.  We all know that kids need to experience some "bad things" in life as it is part of growing up, but that doesn't mean that is doesn't hurt the parent.  There is no pain that I have ever experienced that is greater than the pain of disappointing your child.  

The problem with life is that there is no "do over" button.  What's been done has been done.  We can only learn from our past.  The problem with making mistakes while bringing up children is that you can't go back and correct it.  I mean, as an adult, if you make a mistake you can move on from that mistake, explain to the people involved etc.  As a child you are in a development mode.  Kind of like a clay pot.  While new and soft, it can be molded and shaped, but if the artist makes a mistake and dents the soft clay, it can forever stay in that pot.  The pot may still be beautiful after the clay hardens, but it will forever have that dent.

I have always tried my best as your father.  I know I have not been perfect and God knows I've made my mistakes.  I only wish my mistakes would not have affected you.  I was not always the most savvy financier and learned late in life how to manage my finances.  This is one area where I have great regret in not being able to help you as much as I have wanted.  Considering life does not have a "do over" button and since I am fresh out of highly modified DeLorean's, I can only say I am sorry.  I wish I could do so much more for you.

I believe that people can continually improve if they choose to.  I am always trying to improve myself and I strive to be a better person.  I am truly thankful that the three of you are so loving and forgiving and I will always try to be there for you.  I will always love the three of you.


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