When she no longer crawls into my early morning bed
like she did this morning, she will still want to talk
like we’re on the pillow, and she will ask me about
the so called “mistakes” I have made.
I will explain the way people and ideas have arrived
into my life, how that has brought both love and hurt.
I won’t explain – nor could I explain – the difference.
Sometimes you won’t be able to tell at first glance, I’ll say.
Then confess one thing I know, which is:
You have to keep living into your mistakes once they arrive
because a mistake has many comings and goings that hold still
the most precious of life before us, and that’s worth it.
This is Ella, 8 years old, almost 9.
She still craves my love, and also – at times – is purposefully mischievous, mouthy and disobedient. She tells me what she is going to do and has a unique way of intoning that that is the un-budge-able way it’s going to be.
I admire it in one sense. It’s a strength, but I also get frustrated. I could squash it. I could set her straight. Yet each time I do, I take the power she is going to need to keep for herself in this world. I don’t want to do that.
I’m learning to pause, wait, be calm and “okay.” I say it like, “Show me…”
Not easy, but simple. The more I do practice that type of response, the more I’m learning to trust her.
I remind myself that my relationship with Ella is the most important female relationship I have.
I love my daughter!
There’s a North American Town where the wild flowers are prettier, and the chickens lay exceptional eggs. Everything is a marvel. Everyone’s color and culture is celebrated with cakes and homemade gifts and drumming and dancing and stories around a big warm fire.
There’s a North American Town that’s a scruffy hot bed of non-conformity full of poetry, music, science, sustainability and “choose-yourself-start-up” people. The town is full of freaks, geeks, old gays, hipster activists, attachment parent enthusiasts, home birth anarchists, former students turned organic farmers; turned coffee roasters; turned vintage denim collectors; turned viral YouTube sensations.
There’s a North American Town full of good music, dive bars, hash bars, juice bars, hot dog stands, drive thru movie theaters, plays, galleries and spoken word performances from the local folks.
There’s a North American Town full of rehabbed & recycled once abandoned buildings that now have solar panels and raised garden beds on the roof. The rent is dirt cheap, and these spaces are filled with creativity. Like beds on wooden pallets, turn tables and guitars in every room, alternative movies on demand, Bukowski poems framed on the wall.
There’s a North American Town where everything is better, where all the children believe their fathers, and the water is cleaner and colder, and the sun is brighter and warmer and best will never be bettered.
Like Thoreau watching ripples on still water.
Like Emily distilling her days into verse.
Like Snyder walking along rivers without end.
Like Whitman bearing poems like children.
Like Homer, a life’s work in just two poems.
Like unknown, wide eyed, big hearted, listeners
who are hungry and witness to the real work.
My Ella drew this at age five. She won’t be an artist someday. She’s an artist now.
What I love to do isn’t something I will be someday. It’s living inside of me right now.
I was born with love and passion, talent and strengths. So were you. We don’t have to wait until some future unknown day for that truth to be actualized. We are living, breathing works of art. Now. Complete and rich, creative and capable. Beyond the restraints of Resistance in our mind. Beyond the fear that lies beneath.
Believe in yourself.
How do you believe in yourself if you don’t believe in yourself?
My experience has required many mistakes. I acknowledge mistakes as little pieces of feedback necessary to grow and learn. Most people are afraid of making mistakes. We were conditioned to be afraid of mistakes as kids.
The things I thought I’d most fear have come to pass. They aren’t comfortable, but as I keep accumulating mistakes, I’ve begun to embrace them. Each time a little bit of fear is let go.
So in order to believe in yourself, consider making more mistakes. It sounds counter intuitive. Yet doing so allows us to remove things that hold us back.
How do you make more mistakes?
Do things you love. Things like …
- Pursue an ideal career
- Start your own business
- Stick to important habits
- Get married, raise a family
- Ask that attractive person to a date
- Burn black holes in dark memories
- Assert yourself in an area of life
- Push past your comfort zone
Do any of the above, you will make mistakes. You will screw it up.
It’s completely fine to try and fail, to put yourself out there, not be perfect, to say hello to someone and have them not instantly love you, to do something and have people judge you. Do this long enough and you will come to realize how great you were all along.
Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific.
– Zig Ziglar
Every day – I want to write something that I’m willing to put in the world. So that a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, 10 years from now… I can look back at it and say, This documents my phases and stages. This captures the small moments of my life with thoughts and responses. Here is remarkable communication.
I want to do this because I need each day to find the edges of my wandering generality in order to locate my meaningful specific. My hope is that someday my children, grand children, great grandchildren find my meaningful specific posts. Maybe they will say, “Dang! Grandpa was right on here.” And they will print the post to keep it around for awhile.
This is how I want to use this blog. My practice is found here. This where the productive output goes.
I’ve stopped and started here at this blog several times. The problem I have with social media is, for me, it nit pics away at this work I deem important. Social media is optimized to make me use it again and again and again. It’s purpose is to extract from me mundane, nervous energy. Not productive output. Evident in all the times I check it one last time. Mindlessly scrolling. When I look at my social media posts, it’s not intentional of my best work.
On social media, I’m forever going to be a wandering generality, but at this blog, I move toward my meaningful specific.
I have always known I’d be doing the work of a parent. This is where I belong. I’m a good Dad. This is what I know before I hear it, and I believe that when you know something before you hear it, that is why you are in the world. Despite this knowing, parenthood isn’t what I thought it’d be. Not so far.
Here are my reflections:
- Parenting is burning black holes in our dark memories. Parenting is an opportunity to relight the candle and find our shadows on the wall.
- Parenting has led me to discover my biological father whom I met at 36. This deepened my understanding of fatherhood by offering me a different perspective of the Dad I’ve always had.
- I didn’t think I’d be a single parent. Being a single parent makes me reflect about my winding road with Love. If I wasn’t a parent, I’m not sure my heart would have reconciled its feast of losses.
- I never thought I’d be separated, and barely know my oldest son who lives in another state (although we’re making progress).
- I didn’t think I’d be living paycheck to paycheck, or feel as if I’m a flat tire away from disaster. I have learned how to make it work. Not just with a tight budget, but in every instance.
Yet, these realities set in motion my resolve to make amends with it all. The buck stops with me. That means a lifetime effort to bring awareness of, and scrape off the sticky spots on the tread of my soul. Especially when it gets messy. Because parenting, if anything, is carrying the weight and never stopping. Each step is a journey. Going all the way is a promise.
Nothing brings me more joy than parenting. I have faith in myself as a parent to Ben, Ella, Lucan and Ada.
The developers straightened out Rivers
to make room for houses. Sometimes the
rivers flood these developments. But
it’s not really flooding. It’s remembering.
It’s returning to its rightful place because
water has perfect memory. It will forever
try to get back to where it belongs.
Love is that way too. Love gets lost.
Love reappears. Love remembers where it was,
where it came from, its trials and tributes.
Love remembers the rocks in the river,
the angle of sun’s light and route back home.
Just like water.
Ada’s mom was pregnant with her when we broke up. It was a painful time period. I was angry. Nothing was certain. Even the rights I had taken for granted as a father with her siblings, Ella and Lucan, were put into question.
I wasn’t at her birth. I will always feel hurt about that. It took almost two years before we gradually made it to 50/50 parenting time.
Every visit was precious in those early days. I summoned all of my “be present, be patient” mojo hoping to accelerate our bond.
At bottle time, I’d caress her forehead, sing her the “Daddy Loves You” song and pull her close into my warmth. That became our thing.
She’s almost three now. Our relationship has caught up. We’re on par with the other two.
Today, she brought me her empty bottle, “Num nums Daddy.” She watched me fill it then took my hand to lead us to the rocker.
I caressed her head and sang her the song, our familiar love ritual now.
I’m proud and grateful for how things turned out for us. We love each other.
I’m also grateful that her mom and I have grown to share our joy for the children together. It makes the difference for all of us.
Being literate of our social responsibility, of social media, news media, all media, politics, advertising, race, gender, first and second amendment rights, the history of our country – even the weather – requires an unprecedented level of intellectual maturity that I often see usurped with an audacious moral high ground that sprawls into every crevice of our living, that even the bedtime stories I tell my children are no longer politically or socially acceptable.