By John Jericiau
Can I tell you how awesome my spouse Alen is? Despite the fact that he’s leaving tomorrow for almost a month of intermittent travelling around the country for this talk and that seminar, and this course and that meeting, he still finds the time for his family. Case in point: a few weeks ago he signed up for an online education course for “positive discipline know-how and parenting peace” as the website so succinctly states. He gave me the user ID and password and asked me, rather nicely in fact, to please start “attending” the course whenever I could spare a moment.
“What planet is he living on? I don’t have time for this!” I screamed in my head. I don’t know about him, but I’m 30 weeks pregnant and the days and weeks are accelerating as we get closer to the due date and I frantically try to clean the house, reorganize every closet and cupboard, and unpack and sort out the stored hand-me-downs for Baby Boy # 3.
But there is Alen, balancing his laptop on the stationery bike as he carefully reads each chapter while his heart rate hovers around 130. It was an inspiring sight, one that moved me to log in to the website on my MacBook Air. Unfortunately that’s as far as I got. Each and every day other priorities forced this parenting course lower on my list.
I didn’t give it another thought until Alen told me at dinner last night that today we would be having our first phone consultation with the founder of the company to discuss our areas of concern when it came to parenting. “My area of concern is being forced to do frivolous things (like an online parenting course) when we are both so incredibly busy,” I whispered to myself through my gritted teeth.
Alen doesn’t ask for much from me, so I went along with the whole thing as we sat down in front of the speaker phone at the agreed upon time, rolling my eyes as we dialed the number with both boys at our feet, a Whirlpool refrigerator repairman tinkering in the kitchen, and a visit by our architect to discuss remodeling plans happening “sometime this afternoon.” The thought of sitting motionless in front of a phone for 30 minutes listening to some nonsense was not what I had in mind for a Saturday afternoon, but here it was so here I will stay put.
The first five minutes of the call, after brief introductions, was all Alen. “I want to be a great Papa.” “I want to have a healthy relationship with our kids.” “I want our boys to feel more empowered and act less misbehaved.”
I felt my eyes well up, just like at the end of Beaches and Brian’s Song, as I realized for at least the 80th time how much I love this guy and the way he is. Trying to be the best he can be. A big heart filled with love. A Papa like no other.
Perhaps I was hasty in my judgment. Nobody’s perfect, especially me. Don’t we all have things to learn and ways to improve, especially with something so dynamic as parenting children who are constantly changing in front of our eyes?
I listened to our coach’s lesson the rest of the time with renewed interest, soaking up the information like a dry sponge. By the end I knew that despite the fact that I feel my schedule cannot fit one more activity, I must find the time for this stuff. My family needs it. I need it. This parenting gig has turned out to be the most important job of my entire life. I want to build a foundation based on mutual respect and dignity. Last but not least I want my boys to look back when they’re older and see that their Daddy and Papa wanted not just to have a family, but a connected and wonderful one.
I’ll share some lessons I learn along the way. Thank you, Papa, for this one.