A Summer Song

The last of the summer sun shone down in patches, coloring the grass like a toddler would with different shades of green crayons. A song rose to the sky as the deep bass lines of the lawnmower blended in harmony with the high soprano parts of children’s laughter. The laughter came from over the fence, hidden from the eyes of grown ups, there was no need for them there. With a sand box and swing set and shoes off their feet, they had everything they needed for a perfect eve.

I didn’t need to be there. Though the guilt that I fear sometimes wrings its hands ’round my neck and convinces me that I will be to blame for all their problems when they’re grown. It’s foolhardy to think that their happiness depends on me. I’m mowing the grass in the next yard over and they are reveling in the delights that childhood brings. So I quiet the voices long enough to hear their tiny hearts sing and my own heart swells to the song that is sung. Without words, I am there with them, and I sing along.

Later that night though we enjoy bath time and tea. Before pretending to bite their little feet while they squirm away with glee.

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The hum of the lawn mower has long since faded and is replaced by the quiet of the fan in the room. We lay there, our faces a shade of pink from her nightlight, and I listen as her breathing gets loud before softening. I was there beside her for this.

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Just as I had been a half hour before at Pax’s bedside, watching his boyish grin beam from under the covers. He puckered his lips for a second kiss, and I welcomed it gladly since for once he was not demanding his mommy. I was there with him for this.

And I knew the whole evening they had both been happy. It wasn’t up to me. Not at all. They don’t need me beside them every step of the way! It’s freeing and fulfilling. Tonight I don’t find the bitter mixed with sweet. I’m only savoring the beauty of childhood they see.

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6 Replies to “A Summer Song”

  1. Lee,

    It’s fleeting and passing quickly isn’t it? Just take the moments like those and live in them and never doubt yourself and who you are and what you have to give as a father. I hear you and I understand where you are coming from about worrying. I think that’s part of a true father’s curse. We are gifted enough to love our children with all our heart and all our soul but it comes with the price of constant worry. I think most men never talk about it though. Am I doing enough? Am I doing to much? In my opinion a good father has one ability that is rare and that is the ability to question themselves and how good they are as a father. You are a great father Lee never forget that. Your children are very lucky to have you.

    Aaron

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    1. Thanks Aaron! Tonight I realized that in some ways I can just take the pressure off. My wife and I were talking tonight about it and we’re not sure if it’s a generational thing or what but it didn’t seem like our parents were constantly worrying about “oh I should be spending time with them or I’m not doing enough”. Instead we were allowed to roam free and play (when we were older) and we never felt like our parents weren’t there for us.

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      1. I think we can overcompensate way to easily but I want to add something that my grandfather told me before he dies and then my father told me before the birth of my son. It was funny because both of them told me almost the same thing and neither one of them never knew the other told me. I might even do a post about it now….you have given me inspiration here since I go back and forth between humor and serious on my blog (okay still humor in most things I most)

        Several years ago, before I was a father, my grandfather gave me a life lesson. He told me never do what he did and waste time not spending it with his children. He said he was there most of the time for his children and he loved his children but they grew up too fast. He felt he wasted to much time and didn’t spent enough with his kids growing up.

        My own father, right before my son was born, told me not to waste a minute with my son. My father was never around when I was growing up and will admit this. Both men told me it wasn’t until they were older and much wiser that they looked back on there lives with their own children and wished they had done things differently with them. They now were both older men and lived with many regrets of things they didn’t do with their children.

        I am not trying to make you feel guilty or make you think differently. It is just something that always reminds me to try and make it count but that is just what i took out of it.

        Aaron

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      2. I totally agree. Balance is what I’m after. Of course I want to spend time with my kids but I have to work. And to feel guilty for working because other dads stay at home isn’t good. Also, I have to do stuff around the house. It’s my job as husband. And I realized tonight that my children will be fine without me a few nights a week if I have to now the lawn or fix stuff around the house or help with chores. They won’t say I was never there. Because I was in our yard mowing the lawn but occasionally I’d be the guy popping his head over the fence checking in them. They knew I cared that I watched over them and I knew they were having a great time with the neighbors. I’m still searching for balance and your comment is a good one to this post. The perfect counterpoint I think. It helps to put your thoughts out there and get feedback like that from other dads. I appreciate it aaron!

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  2. Lee, I love all your posts, but this one was perhaps my favorite. You captured the joy of fatherhood (seeing your children in a state of unfettered happiness) combined with the inner struggles we face as parents of where the line gets crossed between what we can and can not control. I love moments when the laughter and joy can drown out those voices and you realize what a wonderful gift you have given to the world in your kids, and what a wonderful gift you have received in return.

    Thanks for that.

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