fatherhood

Last night Teresa and I were talking and I asked if she could have one parenting quality, what would it be? She answered “more patience.” Completely understandable. The conversation carried on and I never got to give my answer, but I think if I could attain one parenting quality, it would be good story telling skills. One of my parenting dreams is to have a long, winding bedtime story. Something that continues on for months and years until Noah and I have a Harry Potter-esque franchise of our own.

But I don’t know if this will ever be. I’m just not a good story teller. I even suck at common conversation. I find my self often telling stories about stuff I saw on TV. I get half-way in and the thought pops in, “You’re doing it again! Stop now!” And the distraction only makes the story that much worse. Not sure if Noah will cause in me the same social interaction anxieties that co-workers at holiday parties will. We’ll see I suppose.

Today I was reading Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide to Adulthood: 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30, and he was talking about the importance of our elders. He specifically talked about his grandfather and the rare occasions he would tell the story of his experience in the Second World War. He spoke of his grandfathers adventures and trials. Bailing out of a plane in enemy territory. Spending a year in a POW camp. Walking what was to be his death march, on to be cut short by a lost English soldier driving up in a jeep and scaring away the Germans. The ultimate point was that the people with the stories are the same people that others trust, and feel closer to, as the stories not only tell about their history, but open up a part of their life.

Not only was I thinking “I can’t tell stories” I was now confronted with the fact that my life doesn’t have many stories worth telling. I’ve always battled internally about my choice to not follow in my father’s and grandfathers’ foot steps of military service, and what that means to me as a man. I feel God has other plans for me, but I’ve never been able to shake the doubt of shirking off a duty. I value things like honor and bravery and courage, but have yet to really have them challenged. I talked plenty of game, but how will I react when it really comes down to it?

Turns out becoming a dad, one of the most manly things a guy can do, really causes you to question your manliness.

In the same book, I came upon the chapter entitled, “Simple Home Maintenance When Dad’s Unavailable.” Now, home maintenance is something I’ve really wanted to take pride in. I’ve managed fairly well thus far, fixing a few things here and there, but as soon as I came upon this chapter, I instantly felt a little guilty. I sorta turn my shoulder in, hiding what I was reading like I came upon a sexy ad in a magazine and didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I’m afraid if people realized I learned how to fix a leaking toilet from a book, then I’m less of a man. I should just know how to reshingle a roof, right? That comes with being able to open jars doesn’t it? It’s yet another thing on the long laundry list of stuff I want to be good at. I just want to be reliable. I want to have my family know they can depend on me for anything. I’ve heard stories of men like this, but I always end up wondering what those men thought of themselves.

I’ve got a lot of improving to do as a man. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. When I find the time for all this I have no idea. Maybe juggling it all is part of the experience.