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Harder Than Dr. Spock Said It Would Be

To My (Grownup) Daughter

A broken heart: mine. You’re moving into your own life. It sure beats you staying here.

Your orbit…

  • Sometimes you will be moving away from me. I stand here, holding my breath, being afraid you won’t make the turn back toward me…
  • Sometimes you will be moving toward me and I will start breathing again…recovering from the fear about you not turning back…

After about 10,000,000  revolutions of your orbit I’ll learn to trust the whole thing and relax. That will be much better for both of us, because you and I both know when I’m holding my breath. Right now it’s too soon to relax. A broken heart isn’t a killer….it can be a portal to where we need to be (as long as we let go).

In the meantime, I need to live and discover my own life in my 50s and 60s and 70s. It’s an adventure that will help me realize who I am (from experience, rather than just reading about it), based on who I am becoming, not based on “me-as-dad”, “me-as-husband”, or “me-as-anything-else-outside-of-me”.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s vital to my happiness and creating my best possible future.

In Iron John, Robert Bly talks about how hard it is to be a father. Great fathers need to embrace and keep their children safe while simultaneously pushing them forward toward opportunities and independence. I find this confusing sometimes.

In The Prophet, Kahlil Gilbran reminds me that you are the arrow and I am the bow. Being a thoughtful parent is so much more difficult than Dr. Spock said it would be. It can be so much more joyful, too.

It is both a nutritious and scary journey: pioneering the next phase of my life without many of the comfortable and familiar road markers and streets of my past.

In many ways we’re in parallel motion. Both pioneering. Both moving into orbit. Both going places we haven’t been before. Both great. Both hopeful. We can do this.

I love you. It’s called Your Life for a reason.

May your orbit and path will be filled with everything you need even if they are not filled with everything you want. I wish the same for me.

Love,
Dad

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Absolutely perfect blog!

Dear George,

I loved the expressions of the roles that both you and your Daughter have placed in "parallel motion."  The joy of discovery of every new chapter in life should always be acknowledged, and you have created a treasure to be shared with many!

Have a great day!

Mary Walsh