the Truth

September 25, 2014  |  Fatherhood

Parents tell your children the truth
that you love them, of course
and think they are beautiful, yes
and that they smell unique and delicious and entirely yours

but also that they just need to shut up for a minute
seriously
so you can get this email sent
this call made
this other critical, forgettable, urgency off your plate
tell them you just need them to stop talking to you for a moment
even though your greatest fear is that one day they’ll stop talking to you all together

tell them you think all the time about who they will be
tell them to be their own person
as long as it’s a better version of you
you without the fear and anxiety
without the doubt
without the dysfunctional relationship with imported cheese

tell them that they can be anything they want to be
while you prepare them to be a very happy, very important
cog in the machine

tell them that you’re making it up as you go

tell them the tables are turning
that you need them more every day
even as they need you less

tell them they are the best thing you’ve ever done

tell them that you will give them all you have
and you know this is true
because you’ve already given them all that you were or might be
that you might play violin, 2nd chair on opening night
that you might open that little camping gear shop in tierra del fuego
that tomorrow you might just sleep in late, you don’t need that job anyway
all of that a gift unwrapped the day they burst into the world
please and thank you

tell them that you’ll give them the keys to life long joy and contentment
as soon as you find them
they’ve got to be around here somewhere, right?

tell them the truth
it was a sacrifice, yes
but you would not give up any of it
not the thread-bear patience or the gray,
not the loss of your social graces or your unwanted knowledge of cartoon theme songs
that you’ve never regretted it for even a second
except for the times you have
when you’ve caught a glimpse in the mirror
and seen the other you, the before you
tell them how much you wanted to hug your own reflection
and see what had become of other you
how much you wanted to take the other you out for a glass of wine
and maybe some brie
to catch up
to know what the other might have been like
but you can’t because it’s a school night and the sitter isn’t available

tell them how your soul swells
when they are caught in the act of a small kindness
or lost in thought
or when they tell you, for no apparent reason, that they love you

tell them it’s beyond you to make them understand
but that they might, one day
when they hold their own small child for the first time
the sum of all their love, need, joy, and possibility
in a wet, crying,  fragile ball
tell them that only then will they know
the truth


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