My Darling Children: I Have Failed You
I have several times related here that when I don’t know how to process my emotions, I write a letter either in general or to a specific person. This is one of those times, where I am trying to reconcile my emotions after hearing some pretty heartbreaking things coming out of the mouth of my oldest child. Sufficed to say, he didn’t say anything that I didn’t already know in the back of my mind, but that he recognized those things and his visual expressions were what caused my heartbreak.
My dear, sweet, wonderful children, I know that life has not always been everything that you imagine when you wake up every day. Every night I am with you, and every night we are together on the phone, I wish for you to have “beautiful, happy, and the sweetest of dreams” because I want you to live in a world where you either only see the good in things and people, or that you FIRST see the good, and judge accordingly.
I know that this last year has been particularly hard on you guys with me gone from home for over more than 320 of the last 460 days, and my gorgeous TigerBaby, you’ve only been alive for 526 days as of the day I’m writing this, so I have been gone from your life for more than 60% of your entire existence!
But enough of that for now… You know me and how i don’t typically get along with numbers so lets move on from this for just a moment.
My wonderful babies, while it causes me extreme anguish to wrestle with this truth, you deserve to hear and know the truth nonetheless, and reconcile everything in your amazing, resilient, and enormously loving hearts. Here it comes… almost there… it’s so much harder to say because I have become very selfish and prideful over the years.
I have failed you. There it is. In many ways, and repeatedly, I have failed you. I’ve struggled providing for you, and took a job that would offer better pay, even though it meant barely seeing you physically, because we needed to be financially stable. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what I mean right now. Trust me. You will later in life. I promise.) Once my original long-term of my absence was over, somewhere along the line of falling into a delivery routine, I started to take advantage of and squander the time I did have available to me to see you, because so many projects around the house and your precious Minnie-rella (long story I will share some other time.) would break down and need fixing, or there would be hell to pay for your Mommy if Mickey and Minnie weren’t available to watch early in the mornings before breakfast when you “just weren’t tired anymore.”
So I trudged along, plugging away…fixing things…and in the process, ignoring you, under the guise of while claiming to be doing things FOR you.
I, your Daddy, the Giver-of-Soapy-Smilies, the Kisser-of-BooBoos, Singer-of-BedtimePrayers, Storybook Champion, Sneaky-Conspiracy-to-Not-Tell-Mommy-Instigator…have failed you in such a profound way, that I am afraid you will hold that inside you for the rest of your lives, and that’s enough to break my heart into a million pieces.
Confused? Let me explain.
My brave knight/pirate/cowboy Monkey, you are so much like me! So much more than you could ever hope to imagine. (Of course, I say that like it’s a good thing! Let your crazy flag fly, my son!) When you were six months old, you looked nearly identical to the way I looked at the same age! We have the same eyes, the same facial expressions, same darn cowlicks, the same sense of humor (I mean come on, who in their right mind would spend 2 hours giggling wildly out of control just because one of the two of us laying on the couch sweltering under 3 heavy blankeys tooted loud enough to register with the U.S. Geological Service. All it took was a glint of eye contact after we calmed down for the NEXT two hours to be spent giggling until we ache! How I MISS those times, so deeply and profoundly!), and unfortunately by a product of my contribution to your genetics and environment sometimes, you have shown signs of my short-fused temper, especially when it comes to a perceived injustice (doubly especially when that perceived injustice directly impacts you, my darling boy).
I have failed to provide you, on a daily basis, with an environment that fosters your budding and crazy imagination in a way that is both safe and productive. Instead I have provided you with the modeling that says that time with my Squirmies has to take a backseat to fixing something around the house, working on the computer, trying to apply for better jobs to take better financial care of you and your siblings, and most frustratingly, I have provided you the modeling that says I will lose my tempter repeatedly because in the moment I am exhausted from having told you 15 times in as many minutes something like not hitting your sister or being mean to your baby, or countless other things I could have better patience with.
You’re just learning how to communicate more intimately with people, and you’re going to (and have already done so, to an extent) feel and experience a wider gambit of emotions and things that are completely foreign to you.
You wear your heart on your sleeve, just like I do, and I see it every time I have scolded you or send you to timeout, or your Mickey carpet. You haven’t had a very good example to show you how to deal with anger, disappointment, frustration, stolen toys, broken toys, fish friends who have passed away, the loss of your snack, the loss of your stuffed animal friends, or any of the other million and a half emotionally charged situations you will go through in your next year and in your lifetime.
It’s completely okay to cry when something has made you sad. It’s completely okay to be frustrated when something doesn’t go your way. And yes, my love, it’s even okay to be angry when something seems unjust and you don’t know how to process those very big-boy emotions through your still so very tiny, but growing body.
What isn’t okay is that I have show you that it’s alright to scream and yell when something doesn’t go your way. I have shown you that it is completely alright to be disrespectful and invalidate someone else’s feelings because it doesn’t line up with your own agenda or the time frame that we are staring down because we are late for church, taking Mommy to work, or whatever the nightly activity is…and I have shown you that it is not safe or okay to make mistakes and that actions breed unfair and overly biased consequences.
Most devastatingly, but hopefully repairable, is that I have shown you the exact opposite of the young man who I wish and pray for you to become. I have so far, been a terrible example for you of what it means to be a man…a gentleman. Someone who is honest, patient, loving and kind to a fault. Someone who is firm in their beliefs, morals, and convictions, but gentle enough to see the world through a different set of lenses and truly understand where someone else is coming from…what their unique perspective to the situation is. A young gentleman who is always seeking out opportunities to help someone who isn’t in the right place or doesn’t have the capability to help themselves.
In short, up until today, I have grossly failed you. And I am so sorry.
My Beautiful Girl, my Princess Kitty, you are my first daughter, my favorite nail painting partner, my Potty Power, and all around Big Girl extraordinaire. You have hit the age where emotions are raging through you all the time, and what may seem like a trivial (sometimes annoying) problem to me, breeds the consequences of being something that is world-shattering, life altering…for the afternoon.
I have not been patient with you like I should. I have been unfairly holding you to the standards that are even too high for you older brother who is nearly twice your age now. You take after your Momma so much! Like her and your big brother you are crazy smart. You are able to reason things out in lightning speed, and have just started learning how to hone the skills that help you decide who and how far you will push that person to get what you want, which let’s be honest…for better or for worse, is what a lot of navigating life is all about.
Somewhere along our journey together, my love, I have somehow forgotten that I am still your Kisser-of-BooBoos, still your injustice-rejustirizor, and still the crazy-proud father who simply used to sit back and just marvel at how smart…how strong, yet dainty, sweet, loving, caring , and just how beautiful of a soul you truly are.
I have forgotten that I am supposed to be the example by which you will judge ALL of the young gentlemen that come into your life. I forgot that I am supposed to teach you what to expect from your relationships with other men, whether it be your brothers, your grandfathers, or some strapping young man who is just absolutely smitten with you.
Instead, I have shown you that it’s okay to get angry and yell. I’ve shown your that it’s perfectly fine to scream when you don’t get your own way. I have shown you the proper response is to be short-tempered and rude with someone when they don’t listen and follow directions (like when you could eat the same thing for lunch and dinner…and gobble down your entire lunch and even have more helpings (you’re such a big growing girl!!), but heaven help me…if we roll the clock ahead 6 hours and feed you that same meal that you LOVED and RAVED about the other day for lunch, and you start this Transatlantic thermonuclear Mexican standoff whereby we are at an infuriating stalemate until God Himself comes down and wills that food that has sat in your mouth for the last 45 minutes (how do you do it?!? that’s disgusting!!) down to your stomach so we can prepare for another standoff in under a minute because guess what?! You failed to realize and consider that was only your first bite, and there are about 12 left, and boy howdy you’re not going to even consider the possibility your mother or I would even have your best interest at heart, and dig your heels in, forever cementing your place on the matter of dinner.
In short, my dear Princess Kitty, I have failed you, and I am so sorry.
My precious TigerBaby, in some ways you’re the lucky one. You haven’t had me around for more than half of your life, but you don’t really remember a time when I lived with you full-time. You haven’t had the same problems that your brother and sister have had to deal with. You haven’t had much of a bad example going on in your life, but in that same respect, you have also suffered the most because I haven’t been there for you when you needed me, in the same way that I have for your older siblings. In a lot of way, you’ve had an unfair start to your life, because you’ve had no example at all. I haven’t shown you the same failures that I have shown your siblings, but they have also not experienced the same things you. You are the first child to grow up from an infant with little or no father…no Kisser-of-BooBoos, no nighttime-snuggler, no bad-dream-getter-ridder-ofer.
In short, my sweet TigerBaby, I have indeed failed you…quite possibly the gravest of all off my failures to date.
But my babies, fear not. I tell you this not to cause you grief, most definitely not to cause you feelings of panic or dismay. I tell you this so that one day when you’re old enough to read this and understand it, you will have something to compare it to and see how I have fulfilled my promise to you that I will be a better man, a better example, a better father for you with every passing day of my existence. I can’t promise you perfection. That would just be setting you up for an even worse realization later in life. What I do promise you, my BabyLoves, is a constant improvement each and every day. I can promise you that I will be there in your hearts every single time you need me and my job has taken me away from you, and I promise that the precious time we have together when I am home, is time that will be spent helping you to become the greatest young man and young women this world has ever seen.
Remember my babies, that the only way that we are able to carry out this is to ask Jesus to fix all the little cracks in our souls and continue to do so each day. We will spend more time talking to Jesus, asking Him to help us with our anger, or sadness, and thank Him so very much every day we wake up because He has given us another gift!
My most sincere hope is by trying to be a better man each day than I was the day before, it will foster your already dynamically exploding imaginations and truly set you up to be the most wonderful and best version of yourself that you could be.
All of my love and my heart goes with you, alongside of your daily DaddyKissies!
<3 Daddy! 🙂