Do you remember the old adage, “Don’t step on the crack, or you’ll break your mother’s back?” I first heard that when I was probably in the first grade or thereabouts. For some reason it had a great impact on me and from there forward I always avoided stepping on the cracks! Fast forward 26 years to today, and I still find myself avoiding the cracks wherever I walk! Yesterday morning I was out for a morning walk through my neighborhood and I was noticing this subconscious habit. Then I started to wonder what other parts of me are still there from when I was just a child. I’m sure that at least 85% of who I am was decided when I was little. I’m sure there is some study in the American Psychological Journal or whatever it’s called regarding the exact number. I don’t feel like Googling it so we are going to stick with 85%. Seems legit.
I remember being 9 years old. I remember what a strong impact my parents had on me. My dad was my hero. I looked up to him immensely. Now I look at my son, who is 9 years old and I think, “Holy Crap, this kid’s gonna’ remember all of this!” Then yesterday afternoon I went to his parent teacher conference, where I had a discussion with the school counselor as well. Ahhh… the memories! She showed me her notes that she took while visiting with my son. She said that the one thing he talks about most is me. I saw her notes and there were things on there that I didn’t even think he knew about! I was completely shocked as to how in tune he was to my life and everything that goes on in it. He knows everything about my job, my relationships, my hobbies, the whole nine yards!
I’m not gonna’ lie, it put a lot of pressure on me. It helped me to realize the heavy responsibility that I have on me as a father. It scared me a bit to know how much impact I have on this little boy along with my other two kids. What kind of impact am I having on my children with every little choice that I make? It made me thankful that I have made most of the decisions I have made. When I saw those notes, there was thankfully nothing negative on there about me, which made me feel better that I am at least somewhat on the right track. I know that just as my dad was my hero, I am my son’s hero. He doesn’t see the flaws that I see. After this experience, I began to see my flaws much more clearly. I began to see how my changing for the better would have a massive impact on him and my other two children.
Right now, I am blessed with the unique opportunity to focus entirely on my kids and on establishing a household where they can feel safe and protected. I try to make my home a place of learning and growing for them. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to see things the way I saw them yesterday, which allows me to mould them into great people. After all, if 85% of who they will be at age 32 comes from what their lives are now, what am I going to do to help that 85% be the best experience possible? What will their 85% be like? Will it be filled with trauma from divorce and a broken home? Or will it be filled with sweet memories of time together at the park, or time together reading and studying, will they have memories of a father who was always there to listen and to be a support when they feel broken? I know that what I want for them is pure happiness. I don’t want them to be filled with trauma and regret. It’s our opportunity to be the best that we can be for our kids!
I have been so impressed at the other single parents that I have met! I’ve had the amazing and unique opportunity to get to know one of them incredibly well and she absolutely floors me in her ability to manage her home, her job, and to keep her children well grounded. It has been amazing to me to see her and several other people who I have met provide a stronger foundation for these children than they ever had even when their parents were together. I would encourage anyone reading this to take a look at some of their single parent friends and see what they are doing. I think you will find yourself to be pleasantly surprised. The burden falls completely on them without the spouse there to support them in their home. It’s really neat to see! Again, I feel that I have a long way to go, but I’m thankful to have these wonderful people as examples to me and how I can be better at what I do. I try to look at the world around me and take in whatever good I can find. A little from over here, a little from over there, and I use that to create my own good here.
Remember the impact that you have on your kids. They are watching every move you make… unbeknownst to even you! Be the best that you can be for them. They deserve it!