Sunday, December 2

Breathing Room

I write this with a head full of ideas while drinking beer and watching football at my favorite watering hole. So 'scuse me if it doesn't meet the accepted definitions of coherence or sense. I believe the truth of it will come through, misspellings, excessive punctuation, drifting thought and all.

It seems to me that all good life-changes take a year to absorb. Bad life-changes either dog you forever, or you slice them off as quickly as possible.

The weekly meetings with my boss used to take an hour and a half. Now it's down to 30 minutes. Ten minutes of work/strategy/problem talk, and twenty minutes of two men talking about sports, family, staff, whatever. We both had a great deal invested in my hiring. Now it's proven and successful, so the "imminent danger" mentality is gone. The mental resources invested in worry is now available for more productive things.

I can breathe now. Maybe it's a male thing, but until my breadwinner status is assured, I cannot find the energy needed to completely devote my self to the day-to-day activities of the family, or other pursuits I might enjoy. It's not that I'm distant, it's just that the foundation isn't as strong as it could be. It is unfair to both sexes, and seemingly out of favor now, but if I cannot provide food, shelter, and security to my mate and our offspring, I should not progress to other endeavours. Perhaps this is why fathers are perceived as more distant than mothers. I firmly believe it is my lot, my role, my responsibility, my place.

I take that back. It's not a male thing. It's a good man thing.

With all my flaws, mistakes, errors in judgment, I am a good man. My children love me. My wife loves me. My children have tough shells and smarts and tools to survive their own flaws, mistakes, errors in judgment.

I love my children. I love my wife. And they love me, because I have provided for them. I have fulfilled every primate male's duty as described by
Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a duty that has no end, nor option to resign. I am a good man.

- - - - -

Princefisher I will fly away from the nest in about six weeks. Sure, he will live with relatives, but he won't be here. Truth be known, Queenfisher and I shoved him out. We would not be good parents if we didn't make him test his wings. Sometimes the lessons of youth are harder on the parents. But I am excited. And proud. He will attend my Alma Mater, a beautiful place rich with my family's history. I envy his future experience, the insatiable curiosity, the invulnerable beliefs, the incalcuble losses, the invaluable wins. But I will miss him terribly.

- - - - -

Princefisher II underwent surgery 4 days ago. It was necessary, and simple by today's standards, but it drained me. Having never been in a hospital before, my 16-year-old son was unfamiliar with the bastard show-everyhting-robe he was required to wear. But he allowed me to help him, sarcastically assuming the "against the wall" position of an arrestee so I could tie up the robe's inscrutible laces. For an instant, I saw the young supple beauty I used to possess, which was irresistable to the girls who brought him home-made cup cakes during his recovery. His male friends visited in droves, tender and understanding, allowing him to rest his legs across their laps, telling him they would leave when he needed rest. When he needed rest, they quietly covered him with a blanket and left.

I never had friends like that.

- - - - -

Princessfisher. I don't know how to describe my daughter, or my love for her. So here's a picture of her and my mother. On vacation I took them to San Francisco. We walked and drove the Presidio, had lunch at an outside table at Fisherman's Wharf, and rode the cable cars. How do you explain a good man's feelings about a day with females that define him? You can't.

- - - - -

So you see the important things by which I perceive my identity. But there are insignificant things that are important as well. Things without which life is just existence. Things which make existence life. Things which, important people and required duty aside, speak to us and make life wondrous, beautiful, inexpressable. All you can do is relate them, and hope others understand.

- - - - -

All marriages go through times of difficulty. Fortunately for the wife and I, serious relationship issues have occurred once, maybe twice, in 23 years. Unfortunately, right now we are in a bit of financial difficulty. Christmas is a bad time for that, especially with college bills coming up, but we seem strangely calm about it. Sure, we worry, but maybe it's because we've been through so much already that we are reinforced and comforted by each other and fight on. Little things seem to mean so much more right now.

- - - - -

Driving to San Franciso on vacation I saw flocks of migrating birds. In wedges and polygons and riots and weavings they executed random patterns against the sky, the reasons unknown to me, but gorgeous and perfect.

- - - - -

Two days ago we had a 24 hour rain. In the desert this is rare and precious. The steady light kisses of the sky caused Mt. Charleston to hide behind veils of white.

- - - - -

I arrived home after a hard day and a harder commute. My kids had rimmed the front windows in Christmas lights, bought light-up candy canes and placed them on the lawn, and put together our fake Christmas tree. Fake? Fuggit. It was my home, and my family made it for me to see.

- - - - -

We had to put Pupfish to sleep for the winter. Our last voyage was perfect. It was too cold to swim, but the sunlight fairies danced on the waves. Soda and beer and cheese and bread and salami was never so good. It was just us: Kingfisher, Queenfisher, Princefisher I, Princefisher II, and Princessfisher. As a bonus, wild burros came to visit! The lead male threatened us, probably because there were more females than males, but moreso because there was a baby burrito. We anchored the boat and watched him lead his tiny herd to somewhere else.

- - - - -

Like that burro, I am an alpha male. My workmates may not see it. My offspring may rebel against it. But after one year, I accept that which makes me. I cannot speak for females, but as a leader I have learned how to be the manager, the protector, the provider, the patriarch of a little piece of humanity. I am steadfast in uncertain battles. I am malleable in uncertain debate. I am confident in uncertain times, even if I am uncertain.

Life continues to change, but at least I can breathe a little slower now. Until the next task, whatever it may be. Now on to all those things I've wanted to do for a year but didn't have the energy for!

2008 is gonna be great.

p.s. The 49ers suck.


rennratt said...

As a female, and a mom, I feel a little of the stress of 'providing'.

I believe that men feel it deeper.

May Princefisher I get many, many scholarships.

Your entire family is truly blessed.

May 2008 totally ROCK for you!

Blonde Goddess said...

Things have a way of working out. Maybe deep down you know that and that's why you're not particularly stressed about everything.

I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw the p.s at the bottom of your post...LOL

Anonymous said...

This post? It nails down the "good man" requirement pretty darn well. You're a lucky man. And you have a lucky family.

tiff said...

As the steady paycheck bringer-homer for years, I felt that responsibility, but am not defined by it as deeply as I believe the average male is. For some reason, having the whole "mom" thing going on is as defining for me as what it is I do for a living.

May 2008 and all years thereafter bring you peace, stisfaction, and a growing sense of placei n this world. You rock.

Cravey said...

What an absolutely beautiful post.
You're a lucky man, and your family is lucky to have you.

Wishing you all the best.