We have all heard of absentee fathers.
I was just the opposite; perhaps I was even an overly “presentee” father.
I was usually the coach, quite often the classroom helper and nearly always the ride to and from school.
If the investment in my children was like investing in mutual funds I would be retired right now. For a couple of decades-or more- I didn’t do much outside my children. Never golfed or went to the bar after work; perhaps the furthest I distanced myself from my kids was when they went to bed and I sat out on the driveway with wine glass in hand…deservedly earned, I must say. I was about as physically and emotionally present as a poppa could be, or, at least, as this poppa could be.
Please know I am not bragging nor looking for any father of the year trophies. The fact is from a young age I could not wait to be a dad. As a 10 year-old I would look at other dads and tell myself, “I wanna be one of those!” It is just who I am; no pat on the back necessary. We don’t reward a dog for barking.
Yet it was this morning that my oldest son moved (again) this time to southern Mexico some 3000 miles away, my oldest daughter left Monday to go back to her love and home in London, some 6000 miles away, while my youngest daughter is comparably in our backyard in Orange, CA a mere 60 miles away. My youngest son leaves to live in Las Vegas via UNLV in just a few months.
I became a father at 25 and now, at 50, 4 adult children later, I sit alone tonight in a house comfortably and custom-designed for at least 5 more inhabitants.
What the hell happened?
I guess unlike financial investments in which one personally gains profit for self –spent by self– investing in your children yields profit for others, namely the children themselves. Certainly the inner contentment of their well-being is fundamental to our survival as parents of adult children and is the greatest yield of all; yet ironically, I find myself alone tonight in 2200 square feet of treasured memories and an equal amount of square footage constituting lonely empty space.
I love it…and I hate it. My tears are a cacophony of both tears of joy and tears of sadness. My heart simultaneously feels absolute contentment, knowing of their solid paths and resolute character, yet absolute loneliness as the quietness allows me to hear the constant buzz of the refrigerator motor and the slight hum of all things electronic in a still house. I would rather hear human generated noise…even if it is the obnoxious accordion, the loud Skype conversations or the overly dramatic script of “The L Word” blasting from Netflix.
Please do not get me wrong…even if I could, I would not change a thing…not one damn thing. This is the design, this is the plan realized; it is the perfectly executed investment strategy gone terribly RIGHT.
Is it coincidence that 4 of the 5 people on the planet I like the most happen to be my own offspring? It feels like I did not raise 4 children, rather I cloned 4 friends. This all would be so much easier if I did not like them or appreciate who they are (it happens!) –au contraire, these 4 are unique, genuine, wildly different, strong-minded adults scratching at the door of self-actualization.
So file this blog as a glass of reflection, with dashes of both whiny and sad herbs, mixed in with a small dose of self-pity, containing a large heaping of perspective then permeated with cubes of absolute joy and contentment. Quite a blog cocktail I must say…like drinking in both sweet and sour and bland and salty all in the same swallow.
And now as I begin the end of the third, start of the fourth quarter of life, perhaps investing in those mutual funds is not such a bad idea…I mean I have the time now.
Unless…soon you will be calling me grandpa? Get busy my children…I earned it. I wanna be the presentee granddad .