Jul 5, 2006

On Old Photos, Distant Memories, and Dreams of the Future

(Toledo, OH) My wife has been busy creating scrapbooks for our children. The project began with books for our recent high school graduates, and has expanded into scanning old pictures and family documents for posterity.

I came across this picture today, and was transported back in time to a period when life was much more simple and with what seemed to be limitless possibilities. While enjoying the nostalgic journey, I was also overcome with a sense of grieving for a past to which I can never return.

These are our first two children, and they were about 3 and 1-1/2 in this photo.

I know that the human memory is selective in what it retains, and I have to remind myself that things were never been perfect in the past. Still, there was a sense of innocence and idealism in that period of our lives that has diminished in the ensuing fifteen years. This would be the period of time I would "do over" were I to be granted such an impossible opportunity.

I would be a better father to my young children, and spend every last minute making up for all the time that I spent pouring my soul into a business that ultimately failed.

I am wiser in this phase of my life, but I do mourn the loss of that youthful faith in accomplishing the impossible. These days I am more concerned with saving money for retirement, finishing my doctorate, and securing a tenure-track position at a university where I can spend the next thirty years.

As I write this, though, the young man in the photo - who is now almost 16 - has been practicing electric guitar for over an hour, shaking the walls of his room with a rendition of Nirvana's "Come As You Are."

He believes that he has the talent to be successful in music, and who am I to question that? I, too, once believed I had the chops to become a rock star.

He is now a better guitarist than me, and he has the advantage of the indomitable spirit of youth on his side.

Son, follow your dreams, and pour everything you have into making your dreams become reality. Never let anyone - not even me - discourage you from pursuing what you love.


Anonymous said...

Why did you have to make me cry? Sorry, its a beautiful post Mike.

Lisa Renee said...

You made me cry too, as a parent I second your wish and agree with anonymous it was a beautiful post.

Do said...

Great reflection, Mike. The job of a parent is to teach, nurture, instill values, and provide unconditional love.

Even with all those things there will be "those moments" when frustration and fear will prevail - but trust in what you have taught them. Trust that they have learned from your mistakes. Then let them make their own set of mistakes. This will let them teach their own children.

Be proud of who they are even in those times when you wish you could take them back to 3 years old and hold them forever.

McCaskey said...

Simply put, this is a prime example of why your blog is the best around locally.
The rewards/frustrations/complexities of parenthood are endless. I think of the Tom Petty song "The Great Wide Open" when I talk of the subject.
I remember 13 years ago when my wife and I brought our first-born home for the hospital. We put her in the bassinett, looked at each other, and said "NOW what do we do?"
For certain, it's the most fulfilling experience one can have.

historymike said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone, and sorry for bringing tears.

This type of post is as much personal demon-exorcism as it is written for any sort of public commentary, but I am very glad that my friends here joined in.

I also hope that these words will make just one person stop and reassess life priorities.

Kate said...

made me cry too. It's a wonderful thing when a father loves his children and stays to raise them well.

I'm thankful that my Dad loves my Mom enough that he stayed through the hard times. It's rare anymore.

Those are some very lucky children. God bless!

Hooda Thunkit said...

Take some solace from the fact that your regrets and wish to do over, to do better, is universal.

If you didn't have those thoughts and feelings, then you'de be a bad parent.