Saturday, June 17, 2006

 

Personal Reflection on Father's Day - 2006

A few days ago, my wife asked me what I wanted for Father's day. Alas, what I truly want the most, she cannot give me.

I told her that I already had all the material things any man could want.

And I do: a nice home, fun old convertible to drive, etc, etc; I already own what people the world over are striving to get.

But she cannot make me more generous and loving; she cannot reduce my ego or make me less self-centered. She cannot stop me from worrying or teach me to trust in God.

She can, and has helped me to become a better person. She can point out those things that I am blind to; things I want to see and understand but never think of.

I am a son and a father and a grandfather. Though I understand the flaws I inherited, and the mistakes I passed on to my son, I cannot place blame or fault others for my own defects as a person.

The sad truth is that I don't really enjoy my parents that much; neither do I feel all that deeply attached to them. I call them out of a sense of duty, and listen to them; I guess my gift to them is attention. My father always thanks me at the end of every call; my mother's love for me shines through every conversation. The fact that I don't enjoy talking with them just makes me feel guilty.

My own son calls me from time to time; he is 25 years old now, with a wife and children of his own. Over the last few years, I gave him money from time to time, as he experienced various crises. The very last time he asked, I said no. What's more, I didn't feel all that badly about it. He didn't call me for three months. As if I needed further proof that I am a shallow person, I really didn't miss hearing from him all that much. He always yells at his kids a lot when he's on the phone with me; I don't really enjoy listening to him.

However, I do delight in my two daughters who live at home. The older daughter, well on her way to becoming a lovely young woman, is a modest but self-assured girl. She does well in school, helps around the house, does not complain overmuch and generally behaves very well. My youngest child - let's just say she shares many of my personality flaws. I do so enjoy, however, going to her soccer games.

My friend "Ralph" puts his children above all other things. His one wish is always to do as well as he can for his kids. He devotes himself to them.

Frankly, I'm not so sure that's wholly good or healthy. Our children are reflections of ourselves; they are proxies we send into the future. By subsuming ourselves in them, do we not build monuments to our own egos? In as much as they carry on our genetic endowment, are not engaged in a form of self-worship when we make them the goal of our lives?

Of course, each child is far more than a mere shadow of her parent. Perhaps these thoughts come to me as justification for my own inability to shake off the rule of my own ego. I admit I haven't spent my days and nights wholly devoted to even my beloved daughters. I watch TV, read, or play on the computer instead of engaging them. I sporadically harass them about homework and chores, to little effect. Sometimes I play with them. Not as much as they would like, I suppose.

I must regard myself as a work in progress, not a finished product. I pray that I continue to improve; and thank God for the changes He has wrought so far.

The easiest writing for Father's Day would get all warm and fuzzy and mushy in a vaguely impersonal way. The second easiest, at least for me: commentary on the obvious ironic, oblivious, massively insensitive cultural contradictions inherent in an American Father's Day.

Instead, I served up a tiny fragment of my actual self.

Now, my Father's Day wish: That, not only I, but all men, become the kind of sons, Fathers and Grandfathers that the Father of us all would have us be.

Comments:
It may not be St. Bonaventure,
Nor Christopher Wren’s architecture.
Yet lest Father’s Day we lose or abjure,
Click on www.tell-usa.org/culture
 
Hello, uncle of mine

Daddykins gave me your blog and upon checking it out I have moved in and ditched xanga. I like it better here.
Nice to see you today, hopefully talk to you via interweb soon. . .
Emily
 
Eh, actually, going to "those things" is fun for me (Although I feel a bit awkward because for some reason everyone thinks I'm this extremely extroverted fireball, and although I am pretty quick-witted, my shell has to be broken first; I'm shy!). I wish I could know the family members (mostly on Dad's side) better. It seems to me that I can relate much better with the Stiles side than to that of my mother's.
 
I found your blog via Josh's tagging of you over at Thoughts from Kansas, and after reading this post I can see why he did. I must say I am impressed by your thoughtful honesty in this post and in th rest of what I read here during my visit.

May I link to your blog?
 
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