An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
...as written by Ian Frazier is unquestionably one of the most hilarious things I have ever read. However, the real lamentations of a father are are not so funny. Mine have less to do with what the kids do as with what I do, or fail to do.
Any regular readers here will recall that I have from time to time lamented about my failures as a father. I count them as the single most important issue in my life - a recurrent topic of both my confessions and my "mom and dad huddles."
If I have fatherly failures, then surely I must have fatherly successes? How precisley do I discern between the two? Well, I must , for now, keep such definitions as simple as possible. Failure is to neglect, ignore, or rebuff my kids' interest in interacting with me. Usually this is done in favor of FAR FAR more important things, which 99% of the time are decidedly not more important than much of anything. Furthermore, failure is to lose my patience. To let love and joy give way to anger and frustration...it happens too easily and it would seem that at least one of my kids is unfathomably adept at controlling me on this point.
Okay, and success then is simply putting aside my petty plans, desires, and hopes...oh and believe me, they are petty...and instead engaging and interacting with my children. And furthermore I allow love and joy to rule that interaction even and especially if the children begin to try my patience. Discipline given in love is a billion times more effective than discipline given in anger. Far too much of my discipline has been motivated by anger as opposed to actually trying to benefit the child.
I am recently quite frustrated by my inability to learn. For you see I often say that God has given me four children so as to teach me patience...but it would seem I have been sleeping in class and not doing my homework. Instead of learning, I seem to just be enduring. I am horribly jealous of you men for whom loving fatherhood seems to just come naturally...or at the very least you have so mastered patience that love and joy triumph over anger and frustration. How do you do it?
How will I do it? Well, I believe, every new day, every ferry sailing home, every drive into the driveway must be accompanied with a new commitment to reinvest oneself wholly in the role of a Dad. To put aside the stress of work, the worries of adult life which we are all familiar with, the petty selfish dreams, and just enter fully, joyfully, deliberately, and even fearfully into that wondrous relationship we ought to have with our children. I am reminded of the cherubic hymn we sing in which we are exhorted to leave all earthy cares behind...is not fatherhood also a sacrament?
Fatherhood is indeed a sacrament, given to men to help them understand Who God is, and their own relationship to Him.
And you don't really get to find out how well you did till they're all grown up, and you watch them handling their affairs competently, and all you can think is, "Wow, that's MY kid. THAT'S MY KID!!!" And all you can feel is humble gratitude that this marvelous human being actually survived all your bumbling attempts to guide him -- and he doesn't think they were so bumbling, after all.
It's a rocky road from here to there, though, sez the lady whose kids are 31 and 27.