As a parent, I have long recognized that my lot in life will always entail a “three shift” position.
Always on call. Always at my station. Always expected to perform.
Much like the life I am sure my parents had, theirs before them, and so on down the line.
There is little in the way of compensation or even job security for that matter. No room for advancement nor any chance for a review.
Six Sigma Black Belt will never be a bullet point on my parental resume.
However, I will be the first to admit that there is this incredible benefit package.
One that even escapes the clutches of all those accountants employed by Uncle Sam.
So as I hurtle relentlessly towards the apogee of parenthood, I remain steadfastly guided by one primary objective.
My singular mission as it were.
To raise my children to become independent of me.
To have their own life.
To create their own families.
To instill their own traditions.
To blaze their own trail.
To establish a legacy for themselves.
Connected to – yet separate from – me and mom.
To become what we have been pushing, prodding, cajoling and teaching them each and every moment to some day become. To be extraordinary. Exemplars of what me and mom always saw in them from the moment we first met.
And even before.
Now being somewhere towards the back half of this process, I fully understand all too well the summits and abysses that have dotted my path of parenthood.
To be sure, there have been equal parts blessings – and – curses. The proportion might seem tilted to curse more often than not. But only to those uninitiated or with an untrained eye.
Though blessings might seem lacking in terms of frequency and timing, they more than make up for it by their sheer mass:
That smile emanating from within the hospital issued swaddling in the delivery room.
The “won’t let go – around your neck hug” from one or more little ones.
The sound of “daddy” for the very first time.
The maiden – two footed – voyage across the floor.
Convulsive fits of laughter at something, nothing or both.
The small ” its the end of the world” defeats of the moment that will give shape to the much bigger picture victories yet to come.
The very “benefits” I spoke of earlier.
Thanks be to God, that for the most part, I have been there to witness and experience many of these blessings.
But in the back of my mind, I still know what is yet to come.
The mother of all curses lay in wait.
The one that is sure to chase the remainder of the hair from my melon and add some over-time to my current three-shift job.
You see, my singular mission – to make them independent of me – yet proceeds.
Sometimes according to plan.
Since that first smile from the delivery room, I have been helping them establish the foundation for a life that they will ultimately build totally apart from me.
And just like the maiden – two footed – voyage across the floor – I get to experience their ultimate departure too.
There can be no second guessing or thoughts on my part. No sense of regret or longing for the past. Nor any hidden clauses to maintain some portion of authority, governance or control.
I have intentionally expended my time, energy, effort and love to this expansive construction project. All the while knowing full well, that it is destined to be completed off site.
A curse you say?
Again, only to an untrained eye.
As the my years seem to pick up speed, I have gained an appreciation for – and a reliance on – patience and faith.
It is all gonna work out.
Because even from a distance, I know where they are heading.
Right where I always intended.
Straight on to finishing.