A couple of weeks ago my son and I took a road trip together to the Grand Canyon. This was a very special trip for me for a couple reasons: First, seeing the Grand Canyon is one of the things on my bucket list. I’ve been wanting to go as far back as I can remember. There have been several times I have been very close, but since I was driving a semi, there was no way for me to take a detour in that direction. Second, this trip allowed my son and I quality time to be together which has unfortunately been very rare for us.
It was a fast trip (almost 3000 miles in 5 just days), and it was just him, me, and the dog. For him, it was the first time traveling that far west. For both of us, it was the first time to get to explore some of the most beautiful areas of the country. My family is something dearly important to me. So making a living as a truck driver where I had to spend most of my time gone was nothing short of torture. Even when I made it home I was so stressed out and wore out that I was incapable of being a very good father.
I’ve always considered the movie “Click” to be one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much over a movie in my life. To me it was heart breaking. The movie is supposed to be somewhat of a comedy about a remote controls that allows the father to fast forward through life. By the time he realizes he was fast forwarding through all the special moments in life, it was too late. That’s how I felt as my children were growing. I was gone too much. I didn’t see it as a choice. I had to make a living, and that was the only possible way I could find of earning a livable wage, but it cost me dearly. My children grew up so fast, and I was practically a stranger in my own home.
My children are grown now, and I no longer have to make a living driving a truck. Fortunately, my children are not far from us and I can see them quite often. Still I regret the time I missed and the mistakes made as they were growing. My son is quiet and he rarely talks on the phone. Even when we are together, conversation doesn’t always take place. But sometimes we go for a walk or do something together and that’s when we talk. Those moments are very special to me. I’ve made lots of mistakes as a parent, but I think the important things still managed to get passed down to both my children. Things like faith in God, compassion, respect, self-discipline, a desire for learning, a commitment to responsibilities, humility, and a sense of faireness are most of the qualities I wanted to instill in my children and I think they were.
Spending time alone with my children has always been quite rare, and for that reason always special. I’m a natural born worrier. Worrying might be the only thing I have found that I am actually good at, but it’s not a desired quality. I’m known to freak out once in a while because I get worried about my children, but when I can actually get alone and talk with them, my worrying subsides and I become impressed by the character that exist in my children.
I can’t remember a time when my son and I have had 5 days alone together. We talked about so much. One of our favorite topics these days is politics. I had given up on politics years ago, and it was my son who was able to transform my whole outlook on politics. I think we both found hope in Bernie Sanders, and even though he didn’t become president, our hope in his leadership still exist in a very big way. We both love history which has had a profound impact on our political views. We share a love of music together. Both of us play guitar, but neither of us is what we would consider good. We also share a desire for fitness even though neither of us could be considered athletic. These are all things we have learned about together over the years. However, a good portion of the learning has been independent of each other, but we still manage to have the same conclusions.
It’s different now. It’s not so much a parent-son relationship anymore. In so many ways, my son has outgrown me. He is about 6 inches taller, he is a superior reader, I can’t even begin to touch his math skills, and be many indications more intelligent than I am. I’m probably still stronger with a bit more endurance, but he is catching up quickly if he hasn’t passed me already. I think there is mutual respect between us, and as a father I couldn’t have hoped for more. We can talk about our different perspectives of tragic events that effected our family. We definately saw things from different perspectives, but there is no hostility. I think we can recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses without envy or bitterness.
Father’s don’t seem to be as popular with the children as mothers. We’re usually more abrasive and consumed by the pressures of providing for the family. It is not unusual for relationships to strained between the father and his children, but this is unfortunate and something I hoped would never happen to me. I love my children. I always have and I can’t imagine that ever changing. Still, my mistakes have hurt them a great deal just like my parent’s mistakes have hurt me. It seems to be an unfortunate point of life, but perhaps is all part of the growing process.
My daughter is a parent now, and even though I admire so much about her, I feel the relationship is still strained by past events. I’m sure she is going to raise her child differently than she was raised. She will try to protect her child from the pain she experienced, just like I tried to protect my children from the pain I experienced. I hope she is more successful.
Life throws us curves that nobody expects. When dreams shatter and tragedy hits that’s when real life takes place and real life hurts. I wish I could have protected my children from pain, but I could not. Perhaps all I can hope for as time goes by is my children will understand just like I understand about my parents; my parents love me, and they did the best they knew how to do in the situations they faced.