Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two Chairs

There are two chairs pointed west out on my back patio, perfectly poised to take in the sunset.

Yesterday my friend came over in the late afternoon while the sun was warming the summer bugs out of their hiding places. We sat in those chairs and talked about our lives; about being divorced men at our age and all the perplexity it causes on an almost daily basis. For both of us the most common thread of conversation came in the form of pain. Not only the physical aches and pains that come from being men with physical jobs, but also the emotional pain that comes from being men with children who seemingly don't need us, or worse yet, don't want us. It's disheartening. It's hard working day in and day out, chugging along diligently...toward what? More of the same?

I'm acutely aware that the whole purpose of raising a child is to grow them into an autonomous, self-sufficient, balanced individual who can thrive without me. But I also really LIKE my children. I have always hoped that one of their adult choices would be to consider me as their friend. I've been careful not to confuse them as children, however, into thinking that we were friends just yet. I am clearly their dad and I love them unconditionally. Oh sure, I make my share of mistakes, but I think they know they are loved. So why does it appear as though I may not get that which I crave--the friendship of my kids?

My parents had seven children and while my dad is no longer with us, I don't think my mom would count all seven of us as her friends. It's not because she wouldn't have chosen each one of us as a friend, I believe it's because some of us have chosen HER as a friend and some haven't. As hard as that was for me to write, I can't imagine how hard that must be for my mom. You see, while she will forever be my mom, she has also become my friend. Part of autonomy and self-sufficiency is the ability to pick your own friends; to put forth the effort into making a relationship work to it's fruition. It's quite possible that my children may not want to be my friends.

There are two chairs pointed west out on my back patio, perfectly poised to take in the sunset.

Tonight, I'll sit in one of them.


Lori said...

I remember my mother once saying that even if we weren't her children, she'd pick us as friends. And as you say, though she is clearly "Mom" and always will be that foremost, there is a kindship that reaches outside of that title.

Give your own children time, John. They are still so very young. Remember that they go through phases of first thinking we hang the moon, then feeling we know nothing. As they grow older and see more of the world of adults, I'm confident they will seek you out, not only for fatherly advice, but to sit in that other chair beside you as a friend.

Cheryl said...

You've hit one of my big fears--I worry about this one all the time. Your kids though, especially the two oldest, are at that age where they're making the transition from kid to adult. For whatever reason, I think a lot of people need to have a little space from their parents while making that transition. I know I did. :) It's a hard stage. Not looking forward to it myself. But you know, I'll bet your kids will come around to being friends in time, especially if you leave the light on for them. My parents did that for both my brother and me, and it worked.

Anonymous said...

Bless your heart :)

Anonymous said...

I miss your posts, your extraordinary writing!
--Mom C.

Anonymous said...

Some of us take a brush to canvas, but you with a few strokes of a pen create beautiful pieces—sometimes humorous, oft times poignant as “Two Chairs”—word paintings that give one cause to pause as before a painting in a gallery that speaks to your soul.

“Two Chairs” took me back to a painful place, a dark chapter in my life through which I could not have walked but for my faith. There was no one, family or friend, to sit beside me in that other chair. My chairs faced east. I sat alone through the seemingly infinite night waiting for the sun to rise and shed healing warmth on my painful circumstances.

As I reflected on your words, I was reminded that the Son did indeed rise and He brought healing beyond my expectations. Now I have no lack for someone to sit beside me to share the sunset. Moreover, I was reminded that I had never been truly alone, for He was sitting in that other chair.

Anonymous said, “Bless Your Heart.” Bless it indeed. And thank you for sharing. Your writing is extraordinary in that is a Gift.

Mom C, aka Cheryl's Mom

John said...

Mom C,

Thank you for your kind words. I am honored that you enjoy reading what I write, and even more so that you take the time to ponder on the words.