“He was unaware of the complexity or passion of the lives led by his family.”
It was just one sentence from the backstory of Sebastian Faulks’ novel “Birdsong”. From time to time I’ll be reading something and and an improbable line from it will whack me on the side of the head. “Oh my God! Is that me? Is that my life?”
So I wonder, have I completely missed the drama that is going on around me? Am I ignorant of everything that is swirling about me? Am I squeezing my eyes shut so I don’t see any of it?
How involved in the lives around me should I be? Most of the time I try to avoid it – all that turmoil around me. And, believe me, there’s a lot of it going on.
I’m not sure how involved I should be as a… dad. If I’m too involved, am I meddling? If I’m not involved, am I abdicating my responsibility as a parent? Are the things I feel just personal neuroses? Or should I jump into the fray? It scares me. I’m not sure what I should do.
My kids are all adults now. OK, young adults, college students, and still living at home. I’ve tried to stay out of their personal lives for a while now. They’re entitled to rely on their own judgment. I have hoped that the early direction we have given their lives will direct them along appropriate paths. They say that the direction of a child’s life is fixed at an early age. The Jesuits used to say, ‘Give me a boy at the age of seven and I’ll have him for life’. So, is it too late for me say anything at this point? Did I do right during those first seven years?
So I look at them now and think, ho-ho, look at all the crazy things they’re doing.., just like I did. And then I look at my own dissapated life and and think — no, no don’t do that. Should I sit them down in front of me and give them… lessons? “Do as I say, not as I do.”
It seems so easy to see the deficiencies in other peoples’ lives. And it’s so hard to address those same issues in one’s own life. Can I sit down with my kids and talk about life, loves, finances, work, hopes…. No, it’s too scary. I haven’t figured them out myself yet. Or, maybe I’ve figured them out, but haven’t been able to apply them in my own life…., yet.
I’m hopeful when it comes to me. And, you know, I’m hopeful when it comes to my kids. Because they are truly remarkable. Sure, they’ll have problems from time to time. But I know they are remarkable women who will be able to direct their lives along the paths they’ve chosen, even though those paths may seem unclear at times and even though there will be bumpy rides along the way.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if I’m aware or not. What matters is that the girls “have it”. And I believe that they do.