We were driving to Atlantic Canada I was excited to spring up on the heels of my new found rejuvenation. After being sick on more than one front in Ottawa I was feeling better and had a new outlook on this time with my family and how to deal with the challenges. Also, the “reset” on my diet made me feel stronger. These feeling fade fast if not put into action, and the cravings also return.
It didn’t take too long before I was feeling some of those old stresses again. You don’t fix these things in a day, or week or even a month. I knew that even if I was hoping for a quick fix. In the past my fixes have been anything but quick.
How realistic was I looking at this situation?
We were approaching Newfoundland and I was trying to absorb the wonder of this place because environment helps your mood, right?
We’ve been passing so many beautiful landscapes, and although it rains here everyday and the nights are bitter cold, there are glorious moments of sunshine and the heater in the trailer makes sleeping comfortable.
With the help of this setting, where was I with adapting to the road and the crazy that came with 24/7 with 3 kids?
I was better.
Cynthia and I were working as a team and learning about life on the road, slowly but none the less, adapting. But this is the simple answer. Fact is, another issue was revealing itself since others have been silenced; I’m now having difficulty recognizing myself.
I knew things would change and that I would change, but I was surprised at the realization that everything was going to be different.
Cynthia was uplifted from her home with 3 kids in hand into a travel trailer and had to adapt. The kids were her every day and she was devoted entirely no matter where she was. This didn’t mean she didn’t face challenges, it just meant she was better equipped to deal with them.
I was plucked from a place where I had my personal interest, time away at work, and my many quiet spaces, to a place where I had no escape; ill-equipped and naked.
That sounded bad. That sounded like my children are my prison. That’s not what I meant….not entirely.
Back home I was a husband and father, but I was also a part of a work team, and I was pretty good at what I did, which brought with it its own pride (and the reason I would first consider resigning and looking at my options).
I also was a solo traveler. I planned trips and enjoyed time alone. (This is aside from my trips of relaxation with my wife).
I had a dozen interested and hobbies I would maintain through the years and was always finding new distractions to occupy my free time, which I was afforded much of by working little more than half of the work week.
In the past year I would reduce these distractions considerably to simplify my life and relieve stress, and even more later on to prepare for this huge change. But I still had those interests dearest to me – interests that I though defined who I was as much as fatherhood, (as silly as that may sound).
Now, I’m none of those things, just a dad and husband (and the occasional trailer repair man).
Those are wonderful things and they are integral to who I am, but such a huge part of me was gone, almost forcibly, the point that I could not see my identity anymore.
They say there is no greater adventure than raising a family. I’m learning that it is true. I’m also learning that it costs you yourself, something Cynthia knew much about.
I now understand my friends who decide not to have children in the case of not being able to dedicate themselves fully to that task, because kids really do ask for “it all”, especially when there is more than one. (not to say there are many legitimate reasons to not enter into parenthood).
Let me be clear for a second here. I would not change fatherhood for anything. Although crazy when all together, when you seek them out on their own, my kids are true wonders and I love them and their little characters. The thing is, I’m not being asked to watch over their growth individually, or after school, or on the weekend. No, this is all of them, all at once, in a blender, set on high, all the time, non-stop, with no ability to take a break.
I was aware of this going into this “adventure”, but how could I have known what to fully expect? For example; I knew that spending a whole day with them at the zoo was chaos, but I wold forget it all when they went to bed and I was at work the following day. Now each day is with all of them and with all they bring to the table; the good, the bad and the ugly.
This is a challenge, one I will have to reinvent myself for.
To look at it positively; I get to find the new me, the person I may have been had I not been distracted by all my interests, and many times, empty desires.
Maybe I can look in the mirror in a few years and like the man I see then much more than the man writing this now.
My objective is to be the best dad and husband I can be while using Gods gifts to me for their advantage and not just mine. My hobbies were a great times of solitude and creativity, but they were also sometimes selfishness. They were also times of learning about what interested me, a knowledge I already see spilling into my children as we discover things together.
Those are the good days, when I can teach them something and get satisfaction from that. That is a good kind of pride, a kind of pride I did not get from work.
The days won’t all be like this, but if they show up between the chaos then we all may get closer to each other and discover what this time away is all about.
As for me reinventing myself, I have enough things about me that I hate that it may be the best thing I can go through right now.
If the number one personal reason for taking this time off was to find out my true calling and passion, then it would take a personal reinvention to help make it happen.
I don’t think it’s possible to do this carrying the weight of who I was. I have the potential to be who I was meant to be and that is enough to pacify this odd and unnatural feeling of no longer recognizing myself.
All the paint must be stripped before you can layer on a new varnish. Sounds painful, and sometimes it will be, but my true hearts desire is to be who God has called me to be. On most days I can see the tremendous value in this.