Να είναι καλύτερο άνθρωπο από τον πατέρα του
Nobody warns you. When you become a parent, everyone tells you how amazing it’s going to be, how wondrous it is to watch your tiny human grow and become. And that is true, it is indeed a very special thing. You get to see this bundle of consciousness become self-aware and then spatially aware and eventually socially cognisant.
It is an amazing journey to witness and participate in. And the relationship that develops is something to be treasured and luxuriated in. But nobody warns you that one day the life you’ve built with this other, this person you love unconditionally – ends.
Oh, I don’t mean that you lose them forever, or at all. If you’ve done your job as a parent, they are always part of you and you them. It’s the life you’ve shared together through all their growing years that suddenly just – stops.
My son and I always had a great relationship. His mother and I had sadly parted ways when he was still quite small, but I’d always made every effort to be there for him as a dad and, as a result, our connection grew extremely strong.
We shared many of the same loves and interests so we bonded over happy activities and were never stymied by an inability to communicate naturally (something that had never been the case with either of my own fathers).
Our times together were marked by fun and shared pleasures. It was a wonderful constant in my life and served to remind me what it was I was working for and why what I did mattered.
Then it just kind of stopped.
What nobody tells you at the beginning is that your child will not always be a child. Oh, we all know this intellectually; it’s basic biology/sociology. The child becomes an adult and takes their place in society. The mind grasps this. The heart does not.
The time comes when the other influences in your child’s life begin to develop a stronger gravitational pull than your own. You cease to be his or her sun and become just another star in the sky. This is natural and good and hurts like hell.
In my case, my son started a relationship with a young lady who took up all his vision for a period of time. I was so happy – scared – proud to see him making this step towards manhood but the net result was that his weekends became much, much busier and something had to be sacrificed.
The regular visits just stopped. This is not a bad thing, it is perfectly normal and necessary. We all do this to our parents eventually. And, as parents, we must accept it when, in turn, it happens to us. That said, it is quite a shock to the system and can leave us feeling lost and without purpose
For at least a year, I saw very little of my son. A weekly phone call and a handful of visits were all that passed between us but the love was there and unchanged. Then his mother fell ill and passed away and I was reminded again of how important my job is.
He turned to me to help him make sense of life’s horrifying randomness. He was incredibly strong but lost and so confused. We worked through our grief together and drew even closer than before.
Eventually, he came to live in the city and I was able to see much more of him than had been the case for some time. Our relationship has steadily matured into something very precious. It will never be as it once was and we both do miss those simpler days but it really has grown into something quite special and I am so thankful for my own parental diligence in those vital early years.
I’d like to dedicate this to the two men who separately called themselves my fathers and who, through their own negligence and character flaws, inadvertently taught me how to avoid being a shit parent.
Words and image are my own.