A couple years ago I took a picture of my son on the top of a rock at Vedawoo, a state park in Wyoming. It was the home page picture on my blog for quite awhile because it always reminded because I loved the spirit that it showed. My son conquered something and desired to show us why he was able to, he was strong. Apparently he still has it as you can see in the picture, We don’t ask him to pose like that. It is a natural reaction to climbing to the top of a rock for a 5 and 7 year old apparently.
I can honestly say that I never thought being a dad would be like this. Either I have a very bad memory, or my parents did not allow me to see many of their frustrations, anxieties, and perplexities. I never thought that I would hear stories of children putting a spoon down the back of their diaper and pulling out a spoon full of…. I never thought I would have to tell a child not to eat dirt. I never thought that I would have to explain to a child why riding various objects down the stairs is a bad idea. I never thought that I would have to clean spaghetti out of a diaper (and after awhile I just don’t want to know what method it arrived there). I never thought that I would be so dependent on baby wipes. I never realized that children will not normally ask the question “should I eat this?” before putting almost anything in their mouth. I never realized that having a son meant having a person (or three in my case) that literally has no idea why they just did what they did.
I never realized I was such a cry baby when it comes to movies, books, commercials, about a father and a son’s relationship. I never realized how much I would enjoy throwing a ball with my son. I never realized the joy that I would have when one of my children helps another person without me prompting them. I never realized how much funnier something is when it comes out of my children’s mouth. I never realized how much I could laugh at something simply because it came out of one of my children’s mouth (Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Dad. Dad Who? Go clean your room). I never realized how much I would enjoy hearing my son telling me about his day, and being broken hearted when he doesn’t want to. I never realized how much I could lose my temper with someone, or how much pride I could feel toward someone.
I felt the same sort of pressure when I was first married that I had to get this right, and that every decision I made would permanently shape the other person. I know that I need to be purposeful about my relationship with my children, and that I should be guiding them toward manhood and womanhood. I have also realized that I will (and have) screwed up a lot, and yet my children could still end up being a loving, caring, motivated, well-adjusted adult. I struggle with that line sometimes, you know the line I am talking about. The line between trying to be the perfect parent and offering yourself enough grace to realize that you aren’t.
Have you ever seen the commercials that talk about sleeping on someones mattress as “like sleeping on a cloud?” Well sir, I have slept on your cloud and I have to say that is not a great marketing scheme. We checked into a hotel last night and because of the size of my family we were forced to book a king room. I am not a little guy so I thought that this would be awesome, I would get to sprawl out and not accidentally kick my beautiful wife out of bed. When we arrived in the room I sat on the bed and sunk into it about 2 feet, just like a cloud (cue dreamy music).
Waking up 20 times that night trying to figure out a way to sleep that would not twist my spine into a pretzel is pretty much the story of the rest of my night. At what age did sleeping on a cloud become death sentence and not a dream? My kids are going to jump out of bed, bodies rested and feeling great. I will spend the rest of my day driving home, or honestly sleeping in the passenger seat as my wife drives because I didn’t sleep well last night.
Side note, my son decided to sleep on the window bench last night which is somewhat narrow. In the middle of the night I heard a “thump, ow!” He had fallen out of it, crawled back up, curled in under his blanket and went back to sleep. He is still going to wake up feeling better than me.
I slept at 8500 feet the other day. Not at a base camp or on the side of a mountain, but in a nice 2500 square foot cabin. Considering that I live next to the Puget Sound my body did not accept this well. My first night sleep was miserable and walking up a steep hill made me sound like I was dying.
After my first rough night sleep me and my brother’s families took a hike along what I would describe as the “The Trail of Death”. The reason for the ominous description is because of all of the signs of predators that we ran into. I will not describe the “scat” to you (for the uninitiated that is animal poop), but there is a definite difference between animals that eat plants and animals that eat other animals. The reality of the trail however was the exact opposite, the only reason that I was seeing so many signs of predators is because there was so much life in the area. Deer, moose, elk, rabbits; there were signs everywhere around these highland lakes. Death in this case was a sign of abundant life.
Then I saw the tree that is pictured above, obviously dead but seemingly no one told the root system to let go. Living in the lowlands of the northwest I am not used to seeing a tree hold on so long. Trees in the dry mountains however can grow roots into cracks in the granite below and what is above ground can be preserved amazingly well in such dry climates. This tree could have been dead for 10 years or so and still be standing. The only sign that it had life is that it is standing, but looks can be deceiving. the environment in which it lives has allowed it to maintain its dignity. How often have I, have we, held onto something by deceiving ourselves so that we don’t have to let go?
Photo from the loft of a barn. The location of the rehearsal dinner.
Fog over the North Platte.