In 1st Generation Dad, Parenting

hat do I dream? I don’t quite know…fuzzy appears to be the lens through which dreams are recalled; blurring details, focusing what matters. I don’t see the location or the surroundings, don’t recognize the smells, feel the sun on my face or cold on my hands. I don’t know the where but I do know the what. Knowing the what leads me to the why, and therein is the joy of the dream. The why is the dream.

In my dreams I learn…better…I am taught. My children, raised and instilled with my best, return to teach me something. That is the what. I have no idea what they teach me, what they share with me, what they give to me, those details are blurred, unimportant.

The me in the dream is a future version, old and fighting the onset of the inevitable, in physical and mental decline, the ever present pull of what once was, and still loved by my children.

I know they love me, because in the dream they are there (when they could be elsewhere). Lives full of days, full of the life given to them by God, by their mother and me, and having built on what was given, made a life their own. To see their lives grown beyond mine. To stand on my life, on my shoulders, and reach further, and arrive further.

I want to stand on the shore, an old man, alongside the adult version of one of my kids, and jump for joy at catching my first fish on a fly rod. I dream about life that my children can one day give to me, what they may teach me. Not living vicariously through them, allowing their lives to substitute mine, to make up for something that I missed. But to breathe in a piece of the life they’ve gone on to live, and now can give to me. This is the why, this is the dream.

At some point, long before my dream, it stops being about me and becomes about them. My role in raising and teaching cedes to their role in living and growing. I continue as a parent, forever encouraging them, forever present, but to their role as a child is added adult, individual. This is where they grow beyond me.

At some point, after the dream, the focus comes back to me. My children, bringing adult and individuality with them, return and teach me something, anything, that they acquired as an extension of what I was able to give them. Something beyond what my life produced.

I dream about what I cannot do, what I don’t know how to do. But it’s hope that bears these dreams. The hope that my children will be better than me…their children better than them…and…

Inspired by Hilary Hutcheson teaching her dad to fly fish.

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