My Boy

An Essay By Taylor // 10/3/2008

I've always wanted to have a lot of kids. My mom courageously bore six of us, eight if you count the two that miscarried. I always try to remember them, too. Growing up with so many of us was like having my own little group of friends. That's not to say we didn't have real friends over. Hardly. But we grew up so emotionally close to each other that the need for outside friends was dampened. I honestly can't imagine having any fewer than eight kids, be they my own or adopted as my own. Six would be the bare minimum. Eight might just do it.

For how much I want to have kids, I've not particularly felt the urge to hurry up and find somebody to marry so I can start a family. I've always felt that God knew the best timing, and while the desire grows stronger in me to find someone to share my life with, I know that now is not the best time. I haven't even started college yet, a prerequisite for me. I havn't been to half the places or done half the things I mean to before I marry. And I know that I'm not yet mature or gentle enough to be trusted with someone else's heart. Not yet.

Ever since dad left two years ago, though, the desire to have a son has burned even stronger in me. Sometimes, I feel as if the time cannot past fast enough. I want to get married. I want to be a good husband, a good father. Maybe the uncertainty of not knowing if I'll be a good husband and father or not spurns me to at least do it, for good or for ill, and stop my worrying. Loosing my dad drove home the importance of being a good father, not only of having kids but also of being there once I'd had them. I've always felt that children are a blessing from God, but they are also a responsibility unlike any other. My father never modeled to me what good fathering looked like. So, I have always reasoned, how am I to know what it's supposed to look like? Talking to adults whose father was negligent, abusive, or absent, however, has changed my mind, as they have all indicated otherwise. Apparently, it seems as if not having a father may actually open your eyes wider than everyone elses to a child's incredible need for a father. And paying closer attention, you can catch yourself falling into bad habits of neglect and commit yourself to change.

Part of the reason I want a son so badly is that my heart still hurts. I still yearn for a father. Though my days of childhood are drawing to a close, I feel as if loving my son as my father should have loved me would heal me in some way. While I can never have the father-son relationship I wanted as a boy, maybe as a father I can still have that meaningful relationship with my son. For my boy to say, "I love you, daddy," or smile up at me would mean the world. My life would be complete. I would have brought happiness and guidance to a young soul during the most critical part of his life. Tell me, if you can, what ranks in greater importance than that? And not only would that smile be heaven's sign of a job well done, it would also heal my heart like nothing else could. Hugging him, kissing him, crying over him, holding him--maybe I could feel some peace in giving what I never received.

In a poem I wrote a year or so ago, I talk about my dreams as being stars in the sky, and of two in particular: my beloved and our child. I write as if under my old baby blanket that, with its many holes, lets the bedroom light stream through. Married to each ray of light, I imagine there being a dream being "drempt once and whispered in a single moment | But living free, eternal—-wiser than the ancient strokes of time." I go on to say, in speaking of the dream of my boy:

Here--another figure, a babe beside her, sleeping.
He's so young, far younger than youth,
Tall-Stander of Beginnings,
Lingering yet among the lillies of Ellysium a moment more,
With a silence waiting to be broken. And I wish it broken,
     Firstborn Dream,
And that you'd wake to the world, take a first breath,
Then look with opened eyes and meet my loving gaze--
That in a father's tears that fall upon your face,
I might christen you with love and with a smile
That welcomes you, oh dear wanderer of the fields of inexistence,
Into a life that is your own, from now until your dying day.

And I promise you, the first thing I'm doing when I hold my baby boy is bursting into violent sobbing. My tears will be bittersweet, bitter with the memories of my childhood and of a father who would not love me, but sweet in the assurance that my boy has a brighter future than I ever had. I will throw a week-long party, and there will be wild, ecstatic dancing, loud music, food, and drink. All my friends will come and dance with me to celebrate "my pride, my joy," as celtic artist George Donaldson of Celtic Thunder sings of his son.

To ever reach the point where I am prepared to marry my beloved and have a child, I know I first have to deal with the issues between me and my father, at least continue working through the pain in my own heart. Part of me wants to call my dad and tell him I want to meet sometime. What if he or I were to die tomorrow? I don't want our relationship to end where it is now. Not that I have the power to change it into something better, but that I seek a level of reconciliation that is in my power to bring about if I am up to it. I haven't spoken to him or seen him in nearly two years. His shadow has started to hold me back from living my own life. I've let myself stay in grief-mode when I need to push myself out, get up, and challenge myself again like I used to. I've had a lot of time to process my childhood, to think about what happened, and grieve. It's time, I think, to talk to him and tell him I forgive the things he did. It's time to move on.

I feel ready. But first, I want to stand on my own two feet, so that when I do meet him, it is with my own strength, with my own tanates, that I come. I want to develop friendships with people, drive myself places I want to go. I want to go on trips to distant places. In a way, I want to start showing the signs of success. I want to break old bad habbits, I want to love my family more dearly, and live life more passionately. Then and only then can I have the inner strength to know that regardless of the outcome of our meeting, my future is secure. I'm going to be okay. Maybe then I can have the strength to calmly sit down to lunch with a father I have not seen in so very long and speak openly and unreservedly.

The truth is, I've started to pity him. He's lost everything--his family, his friends, the community we had, the old farm. What else is there to loose but your soul? None of us are speaking with him, besides my little brother who has visitation and therefore no say in the matter. From what I hear, he's living with his old, neurotic mother in her house, waiting for her to die so as to inherit what remains of her hoarded wealth. I pity his frailty. Since he left, he's become gaunt and lost a lot of weight. He looks weak and old, though he was a former wrestler and is only fifty-four. I pity his inability to get what he wants. He has this idea that money will solve all his problems, and yet in the pursuit of money, everything has fallen through his hands. His time's running out, and I'm not sure if he'll ever realize that he missed the greatest opportunity for happiness--and that he destroyed it. I pity him for not having a better childhood himself. His father led a similar life to my dad's--selfish, self-absorbed, egocentric, passive, distant, proud, and greedy. That is perhaps the greatest weakness of my father's side of the family--their greed, their totaliarian methods of obtaining it, and their self-justification. And look at where it has led them? What I do not pity about my father are the choices that he has made every step of the way not to change. He has had fifty years of wake-up calls and refused to listen to any of them. His present state of existence is of his own making--not anyone elses. He has no one but himself to blame.

Looking at my father's sad history of failures and tracing it back the family tree, I see in my father's bloodline characteristics I do not want to inherit. Greed. Pride. The inability to change. I don't want to be the third generation of this sick, withered family tree. I don't want to be my father's son. I want to be a different kind of man. I want to cherish my family. I want to follow my heart, wherever it leads. I want to make a difference in people's lives. If that means living simply, without a dumptruck load of money, then so be it. All I want is to live a simple life in communion with family and friends, in fellowship with nature and my Creator, and in humility, knowing that my days are numbered, my breaths few, and that the time I have on this earth has been given to me that I might better the lives of my fellow man, my wife, my daughters, my boy. For me there is no greater creed than this.

Comments

Wow, a lot of what you've

Wow, a lot of what you've said is very true for me. i've always wanted to be a mother, a desire that has only intensified since my dad died, and I've also done a lot of reflecting on parenting. :P I really hope your dad sees the error of his ways before it's too late.
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Abstract, random thoughts flit through my mind,
manisfesting themselves in meaningless doodles.............................

Sarah | Fri, 10/03/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

Sarah--

Sarah,

Ever since you mentioned that you're dad had died, (wasn't it in response to my essay about the old lady in the grocery store--A Father's Day Surprise?), I've remembered what you said. I ran across a song (another one) by George Donaldson of Celtic Thunder called The Old Man. I also liked two others, called My Boy (which inspired my essay) and Voyage. Here are their link to YouTube.

The Old Man -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQfYSq2Ey9k
My Boy --
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11bZmlYvkv4&feature=related
Voyage -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9H_EYccEHQ&feature=related

I thought that even though it has been a few years since your loss that The Old Man might help you. I know that for me, even now after all this time, it still hurts. It probably always will. Thanks for reading my essay and for your kind response. I always wonder after I write something like this how it affects people---did it strick a chord? or did I miss the emotion completely? Am I alone with these thoughts? or am I one of many?

Again, thank you.

Taylor

Taylor | Fri, 10/03/2008

Thank you for being so

Thank you for being so transparent, Taylor! This is what makes the piece work--your openness about what you want and wish for.
Everything you said about wanting to marry struck a deep chord with me. My friends and family joke about getting me married some time, and I'm beginning to feel like that wouldn't be a bad idea. My mom was married when she was eighteen almost nineteen...and I'm almost nineteen and a half. My dad's mom married when she was sixteen. So I come from families of early marriages!
However as you said there are things I want to do first.
Yet...all in God's timing. There are ways He'll make you grow before marriage if you'll only let Him. And I guess the same goes for me too. And remember to enjoy your single years, because when you don't have to serve your wife and kids, there is more left for you to pour into God's service.
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The successful writer of a Fairy Story makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter
~JRR Tolkien

Heather | Sat, 10/04/2008

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

That was really strong and

That was really strong and beautiful, Taylor! Your sincerity and determination are wonderful.

Amy | Sat, 10/04/2008

This is such a meaningful,

This is such a meaningful, touching essay. Wow.
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"Weddings? I love weddings! Drinks all around!" -Jack Sparrow

Anna | Sat, 10/04/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

..

This is very beautiful, Taylor. I've ALWAYS wanted to be a mother, ever since I was little. I think what spurs this on the most is seeing all the fatherless and motherless children suffering for want of parental care and love; or seeing ignorant, ungrateful parents raising their children totally wrong. It just makes me want to raise my children SO well, that sometimes I'm afraid I won't raise them well enough to meet my standards!
Thank you for sharing this. God bless you.

Clare Marie | Sat, 10/04/2008

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"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Taylor Every time someone

Taylor

Every time someone write about something like you wrote it strikes a chord, Makes me hurt a little bit every time not only for myself and my five siblings, but for anyone and everyone I know that has had a similar experience. By the way, it's been two years, two months since my dad died.
Thanks for the links, I'll listen to them soon. :)

Sarah
~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~
Abstract, random thoughts flit through my mind,
manisfesting themselves in meaningless doodles.............................

Sarah | Sun, 10/05/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

Same Here

Exactly, whenever I hear someone else's story that in any way resembles my own, I grieve. To say that I grieve for them is true, but I also grieve for myself, if that makes sense? It's as if seeing what happened to me in the life of someone else makes it all the more tragic. Watching it happen to someone else gives me the permission to grieve that sometimes I deny myeslf, because I say I need to be responsible, grown-up, and just "keep it all together." I know I can handle my loss. I've grown stronger because of it, but to watch as a little five year old boy listens to his father shouting at him, or neglecting him, or just plain out of his life altogether just wrings my heart with unspeakable agony. Because I know the years to come will be very, very hard, and it breaks my heart to watch them go through that.

I've known a few such little, little boys, and I immediately want to steal them away and be the father they never had. I want to guard them, protect them. You always hear of women being very motherly in this way, so for me to say that might sound strange. I always think of what Jesus said while fleeing Jerusalem: "Oh how I long to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings" (paraphrase of Luke 13:34). Or how in the Old Testament God speaks of sheltering His children in the shadow of His wings. Oddly, that is how I feel. I want to guard them, to protect them from the world, and to love them with every ounce of strength in me.

Maybe it's the selfish desire to love myself that makes me feel this way. Like Narcisus of Greek mythology who drowned in the lake for staring at the beautiful boy in the reflection. Or maybe it is the part of good in me that God put there to feel empathy and compassion for those who I know are in pain and whose condition I can do little to improve. I struggle in deciding which of the other is the true motivation, but whichever it is, the feeling is strong.

Taylor | Sun, 10/05/2008

Exactly

Clare,

Thanks for the feedback. I feel similarly. It is all the terrible parents I see in the grocery store where I work and my own less-than-perfect childhood memories that motivate me, almost beyond my own control, to raise my own kids better. To prove that it can be done. But not only that, but also to give the selfless gift of love to a little, helpless human soul that shares half of my own DNA. There is something humbling and calming in knowing that you've done right by a child, by playing with him, or by making him laugh or even smile. It is like a ray of sunshine to the soul on a gloomy day.

Taylor | Sun, 10/05/2008

Taylor, You are definitely

Taylor,

You are definitely not the only guy who dreams of being a father some day, or who cringes and cries inside when he sees selfish parents who don't give their kids the time of day.

And it can be done - my father came out of a very bad home situation but created a very good one for us.

Ezra | Sun, 10/05/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

I really enjoyed reading

I really enjoyed reading this, Taylor.
Recently I've really been struggling with my dream of my own family some day, mostly just because it's so different from the world's idea of a family... but it's God's idea, like my family now... my friends don't understand when I say I want to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, they don't view it as God's highest calling for a woman as I do. I know, though,that if it's in God's plan for me, someday there will be a young gentleman, that when he hears that, he'll be able to look me in the eye and say "Yes! Thank you. Thank you for wanting to serve God in that way. We need more women like that if the Church is going to keep growing..." and on and on!

My daddy has his shortcomings, too. In a world full of sinners, who doesn't? It may not be to the same extent as those of others, but every man will fail... but God's soooo gracious I can't get over it. He's always faithful, it's his faithfulness that carries us.

And I strongly believe He'll help us, the founders of the next generation, to further His purposes... especially when it's involved in a Deuteronomy 6 family. :)

Kyleigh | Sun, 10/05/2008

That was very beautiful

That was very beautiful Taylor, and Anna your signature made me laugh so hard. It was like I was teary eyed from reading the essay.....then I read your sig. ;)

marie (not verified) | Sun, 10/05/2008

I so glad that I can't

I so glad that I can't relate. I am glad that I haven't had to go through what you did, Taylor. I can't even imagine what it must have been like. I'm so sorry.
I have also thought about how I am going to raise my chilren. I am so worried that I won't choose the right things for them. What will they think of thier lives and what happens to them? But I can only do what I think is best and leave the rest to God.
As for getting married. I haven't really wanted to, but the idea always sound like a good one, if you can understand me. I am planning so much for my life-I want to do so much, and I'm worried that it won't get done. I know of course that it can't all be done, but so much of it is important to me. I don't know what will happen, but it will happen so I should just wait.

(good grief, I talk a lot)

"Inconceivable!!"-Vizzini

The Brit | Fri, 10/31/2008

Beautiful

Taylor, it's been well over a month since you wrote this, but I didn't see it till today. I identified a lot with it! As the oldest of eight, six would be pretty much the minimum for me as well, and eight would be great. I'd love to have as many children as the Lord will give me. More than any profession or career, I want to be a loving husband and father and raise children who love the Lord and each other.
But the responsibility aslo frightens me. I've discovered a lot about my selfishness and my sinful tendencies, and I have to conclude that even at age 22, I'm still not mature enough to, as you put it, be trusted with someone else's heart.
All that to say, you definitely struck a chord with me. You espressed beautifully a lot of the things that I have felt and thought.
Thank you so much for writing this.

James | Fri, 11/14/2008

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"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle