As I walked around my local supermarket and did my weekly shop there was something that I noticed that made my heart literally swell with joy. It wasn’t an unusual sight, but one that nonetheless always catches me by surprise in terms of the emotions that it elicits.
In front of me was a father doing the same as I had done, with his two small children perched in the shopping cart in front of him, a soft and joyful conversation fluttered by me as they past. From the children’s perspective it was truly an adventure of wonder as they smiled, giggled and spoke to their father, he was smiling and engaging them in a conversation that few may understand except for another parent.
He was showing them the world…in his soft, patient tones I could tell that all three of them were in a cocoon of love and that nothing could brooch this lovely moment. it was as if there was no world except for them as each of them was spellbound with the interaction going on right in front of them.
Over the course of my time in the store I passed them on a number of occasions in various aisles, yet nothing had changed since our initial crossing of paths earlier, it was as if time had stood still as they remained happily ensconced in their ongoing adventure and discovery of everything amazing in the store…
As you probably know by now if you’re a regular reader that I can be both sensitive and at times an overly sentimental guy, yes some might say its my achilles heel, but I’m cool with that.
In fact, I’d much prefer this to any alternative…wearing my emotions on my sleeve is something that I’ve had to learn to get used to over the years, especially after a childhood spent purposely hiding them. Showing your emotions in any form in rural Australia during my formative years would have gotten you mercilessly teased, and therefore I learned early in life to steel my emotions and shut them out…best for everyone that way.
However, as you know you can’t always run and hide from something that is so core to your very being and so as I got older my emotions got harder to bottle up and hide.
The change in my emotional state truly came to the fore with the birth of Zach and Sami, as my deep love for them emerged. To be honest I wasn’t ready for all of the wonderful (now that I look back) emotions that surfaced in those early years after they were born.
What I found was that as I embraced the inevitable emotions that had been held back for so long, what first began as a trickle of deep emotions soon turned into a tidal wave…but in a good way! 🙂
Adjusting my own personal perception of myself to accept and embrace these swelling emotions was the most difficult aspect of this journey, but once I was able to come to terms with them and surrendered myself to my brave new world then I could get on with living an authentic life.
I never imagined that by doing this I was in fact, opening myself up to a love so deep that it still scares me a little to this day. Never in a million years could I have imagined prior the birth of Zach and Sami that I could ever love this deeply.
And so as you can imagine a ton of wonderful memories and emotions flooded into my mind and washed over me as I observed the father and his children today. Of similar excursions and adventures with Zach and Sami which made my heart warm more noticeably, I had been transported back to those early years.
Maybe it’s just me but I rarely hear stories of the loving father and the strong role models that we are to our children, I find it’s a bit skewed toward the mums, now don’t get me wrong mums are incredible and thoroughly deserve the praise and accolades they receive for all the loving and nurturing that they provide to their children.
Perhaps it’s just that there aren’t enough stories of the amazing dads out there that I hear about nor the substantial impact they have on their children’s lives. I know as a single parent it’s even more rare for a father to be seen in a loving and supportive light, but I’m here to tell you that the “proof is in the pudding” so to speak. 🙂
I realise that not all fathers are created equal, but I would say that my contribution to the lives of Zach and Sami and the impact I’ve had on shaping them and their outlook on life has been pretty big even as a single parent.
In my mind it’s less about the situation or circumstance and more about the person, the depth of your emotional engagement (yes, I tell them that I love them everyday), your willingness to put your kids first and spend time with them as much as possible and the commitment to always be a good role model.
Your gift of time and effort is the single most important thing you can do for your children along with demonstrating and sharing strong and consistent values. In particular while you’re with them, being completely and totally present is critical. There will always be distractions, but trust me this is the greatest gift you can bestow in your lifetime, giving the ultimate gift of a childhood filled with love, affection and time together.
Your personal investment in your kids is your lasting legacy which will live well and truly beyond your years.
Just imagine the stories they’ll have to share with their children and even grandchildren… I’m a great example as I often still share grandfather Conolly’s stories to this day, and many of those are at least 100 years old which were passed down by my mum.
So I tip my (virtual) hat to all those incredibly loving fathers out there, smile warmly and say thank you!