Fatherly Patience: Choose Greatness

23 SEP 2022 @ 09:20
A cool, fall morning with 10℃ outside
Mannheim, Deutschland

I’m reminded of a Facebook post my cousin shared years ago about a close friend of his. This friend was playing the piano during a church service, and his young daughter came up to him asking a question. Rather than putting his task first and telling his daughter to go sit down, he smiled and listened to her as he continued playing without missing a beat. My cousin said he admired that level of patience, and being a new father, it was something he aspired to. I can surely say the same for myself.

Nilah started first grade this week–a huge milestone for children, and an emotional one for parents, particularly when it’s the last child. I should have written more in the moment, but I captured a lot of photos thankfully. The feelings are still fresh however; I’d even go so far to say they’re intense. I’ve made a conscious effort to remain in the moment when dealing with our daughters, because I realize how quickly they’re growing up. Every moment, whether it’s watching Nilah walk to her class, or listening to Eliana talk about her day, should be cherished. That’s difficult when the moment is stressful.

Nilah’s been flipping back and forth emotionally about starting school this week. I’m calm and logical, so I know she’s adjusting to the schedule and searching for her tribe of kids to connect with. Natalie and I know that’s the hardest part for her right now. One moment she wants to be fiercely independent–which pulls at our hearts because we don’t want to let go so quickly–then there are moments like today where she’s very scared and just wants to stay home. She doesn’t yet fully understand that unlike kindergarten, daily school attendance is mandatory. Rather than going right into class, she cried uncontrollably and clung to me. Her teacher tried to help and even recruited two other kids to try and console her. With a few work deadlines and a busy weekend ahead, I explained to her that I was on a tight schedule and needed to go back home to get work done. In that instance, I could simultaneously see that scared little girl as an adult, and myself thinking back to who I chose to be in the moment when she needed me to be everything a father means. As stressful as full-time entrepreneurship can be, the freedom is provides in critical situations such as this example is priceless. I chose compassion, and sat with her for a few minutes in the classroom. It wasn’t perfect–she still cried, clung to me tightly and followed me back outside–but it did ease her nerves to the point where she was comfortable enough for me to finally leave.

As I walked away, I turned and stopped to watch her reluctantly walk into the classroom. She’d calmed down and stopped crying. I really didn’t want to leave, but I knew she’d be fine. As much as I’d like to, I can’t hold her hand (emotionally or physically) forever. The day will soon come where she won’t accept that type of support anymore. “The Tail End” by Kurzgesagt is a very sobering video that made me think of that fast-approaching moment. It will happen quicker than I can imagine, so often I remind myself that being great vs being short-tempered or otherwise insensitive to my girls, is a split-second decision that will affect them (and me in the form of regret) for a lifetime. The world will be brutal enough to them at times, so I don’t need to add to that; it’s unfair and extremely cruel.

I’ll never play the role of parent/best friend to my girls. Children need discipline and guidance regardless of how “new age” parents think and act. I do however choose to be kind, patient and live fully in all the details of fatherhood even though I’m really just figuring things out on the fly. I hope my girls will appreciate the effort when they’re older too.

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C. Duayne Pearson monochrome mirror self-portrait with Canon AE-1 Program 35mm camera

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