It’s a question that’s been hovering around me in recent weeks, pecking away. And it’s this: if I’m not parenting, if I’m not in full-on Dad Mode, then what should I be doing?
And, more disturbing, who am I?
For some time now my life has been defined as much by my role as a parent than anything else. After my wife passed away, my goals in life seemed to all focus around one main objective: raise the kids.
I’m not going to say the task was easy, but at least it was laid out in front of me. When my son was a baby, he would look up at me (usually crying), and I knew it was either time to give him a bottle or change a diaper.
But that was 10 year ago. Now my son doesn’t need his diaper changed (thank goodness), and bottles have become meals.
That’s how I’ve spent much of my time over these years. I’ve been organizing, directing, making sure that the kids know what they’re supposed to do, and when they’re supposed to do it. Homework? Check. Chores done? Check. Papers from school signed? Check.
Now, however, things are changing. Sure, I still check on homework. But I don’t need to. It always gets done, usually before I ask. And I still have the parent conferences to attend and games to go to.
But I can see things are changing. And worse, I can feel them changing.
My daughter is grown and almost through with college. And my son doesn’t need me to be the complete organizer of his life any more. In fact, many times he doesn’t need me to do much of anything for him.
And that’s where I’m feeling a bit lost.
Because if I’m not doing parenting things, what should I be doing?
The good news is that as my kids have gotten older, we’ve found new ways to spend time together. New interests to bond us together.
In the last couple of years, my son has started traveling with me to all of the high school games I broadcast on the radio. We go to the movies, and then afterwards enjoy a pizza while we discuss what we watched. There’s air hockey games (which he now regularly beats me) and video games (where he also beats me).
And with my daughter there has been concerts. And they both enjoy (translation: have been forced to watch) my watching my bad movies with me.
But I’m not still not sure where it’s going. Or exactly what my role is supposed to be.
No, my kids don’t need me to do all the little things I used to do for them.
But they do still need me in their lives. And that’s something I hope never changes.