I am thinking about parenting this Fathers Day and realising I can’t remember one thing my dad bought me growing up. (Actually that’s not true, I remember him bringing home a digital watch for me when it wasn’t even my birthday and feeling very grown up but the birthday and Christmas presents are mostly forgotten.). What I do remember are the gifts he laboured over by hand (an electronic metronome, a set of stilts that every child in the street wanted a shot of).
I also remember the hours he spent driving me to clubs and band practices and taxiing my friends around whose families didn’t have cars. It never occurred to me that he might have had something better to do. Now that I have children needing me to do something for them EVERY MINUTE I think back to my dad’s quiet service and see it for what it was. It was putting my needs first and never commenting on it . I think he saw it as his job and in the same way as I would never say to someone I work with, “Do you see what a good job I’m doing? Do you know how long that took me to prepare?” (Admittedly , I want to sometimes.), he didn’t point it out to me.
I spend all day telling my children and husband how much I do for them , which on reflection, kind of spoils the gift.
Parenting is exhausting at times and it feels like we can never do enough, be enough, (earn enough) to do it right. Today I am asking myself what my children will remember in 30 years and realising that it might not be whether they got to see the latest film when it was still new at the cinema (rather than waiting for the Kids AM showing) or that they didn’t have an iPad. I think maybe they’ll remember my attitude to them. And actually, that’s quite quite challenging.
Maybe it’s the quiet parenting, serving needs that go unrecognised at the time, that matters most.
I’ll try to remember that today as I pick up another 20 toys discarded on the floor and load yet another pile of laundry into the machine. I’m not good at quiet service but I’m going to work on it today.
Thanks, Dad, for the lesson.