For as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a dad. I wanted to be a part of a family with the house, the dog, the two cars in the driveway. The whole package. I wanted the “Family ties”, “Growing pains”, “Eight is enough” scenario. As a child our family was never that close and I would go over friends houses and see how they lived and want that so much. The presents under the Christmas tree, birthday parties, baseball games, little league, dances, prom. I told myself that when I had kids I would make sure they didn’t miss out on a single thing.
When they are young they are so fragile. They need you for everything. Babies bring a kind of controlled chaos to your world. When they get into their preschool days they love being with you. They look up to you and want to be with you all the time. Then they get into school and make friends and they still give plenty of hugs and kisses but want more and more play dates and sleepovers.
When they get in their teens they become independent. They have their circle of friends and develop their own interests. They become friends. You find yourself enjoying their company in a different way then you did before. It’s very easy for a parent to lose track during this time. It’s easy to put the parenting thing aside and become more like equals. When that happens the child tends to take advantage of the freedom they are given. Then when the parent finally does puts their foot down it causes a rippling effect.
But as parents we live and learn and with any luck we get back on track.
When your child gets sick, well that’s where the game changes. That’s a whole new set of challenges. Your heart breaks. Everything you knew seems irrelevant at that point. When your child contracts something that they can never get rid of. Well that’s something no parent ever plans on or can prepare for. It’s realizing that the hand that once held theirs is empty.
My son contracted Lyme a few years ago. And although we detected it early enough, it seems it has decided to stay. He has had to drop out of football, drop out of boy scouts, drop out completely it seems most of the time. The pain he has is unmanageable. He can barely walk some days. He gets frustrated and angry easily. He can’t concentrate on any thing for too long. His school work has suffered. It impairs his ability to make correct choices. Every conversation I have with him always starts out with him telling me how bad he feels and how much he just wants to be fixed. It’s like reaching out to him but never quite touching.
That son I use to have, that I use to toss the football with, go on walks with, go to concerts with. He’s just not there anymore. I miss him so much. He has become so disconnected with family and home that all he talks about other than his pain is leaving. He has nowhere to go, no plan on how to get there and no prospects of a better life, yet it appears to be better than here. Almost as if he gets as far away from this life as possible than he will get better. He is so sore that he is unable to do much of any physical activity. He can’t mow a lawn or shovel snow. He get winded washing the dishes.
You always plan of the fairy tale ending to a dream. You fight through life to get to where you want to be. You get the house, the dog and the family. But life can’t always stay in one place. Things change. Not all families stay together. I wonder if I knew the outcome of the story before I started writing it if I would have changed around the words to better fit the ending.
I believe that life is a series of tests provided for us to endure. It’s a way of proving our worth and our faith. I’m not sure what the end will bring for those who score well. But I hope whatever it is, it brings him some kind of peace. I often wondered if I was capable of love. But now I wonder what the price for feeling it really is.
Parenthood has its rewards. Its something I always felt I was good at. I always slept comfortable knowing that the bills were paid, the kids were tucked in bed, the wife was happy…well there, and the dog was keeping his watchful eye on the front door. But now I don’t sleep. I worry and I stress. But most of all…I miss.
I sometimes think if I just forget about it then it will go away. Like trying to opened your eyes really wide during a bad dream to make yourself awake. But when I awaken, I am still here. With empty hands.
I suppose not all dreams are as easily awakened from.
I am tired of missing.