Dear Greg and Ashley,
I realized on this morning’s walk that I haven’t written either of you a letter in some time. Part of that is a by-product of the fact that you are both getting older and starting lives of your own – and my wanting to let go to allow you to do that unencumbered by concerns over “what dad will think” about choices made (or not made as the case may be). But, part of it is the general busyness that has crept back into my life over the last few years with work, the book, my blog, my teaching, my speaking and writing and the ever present demands of daily living – not excuses, just a fact of life. Still, I think of you often and today was no exception.
In fact, since the day you born, I can’t recall a day I haven’t thought about you – about how you were doing, what you were feeling, how I was doing in the dad department and what more I could be doing to help you better appreciate how very special you are. It was the latter piece that often consumed me. Time and time again, I and others (e.g., teachers, coaches, instructors, friends, casting agents, etc.) held “the mirror” up only to have you turn a blind or too-critical eye to it – always slow to accept praise, but quick to find faults and imperfections. My response: Re-double my efforts to show you the “you” I see. Yours: “You’re just saying (and doing) those things because you’re our dad.”
Let me clear about one thing: I never deemed it to be my “parental obligation” to view either of you through rose-colored glasses, nor am I (or have I ever been) blind to your human frailties – any more than I am to my own. No, the reason I struggled mightily to show the two of you the truth about you is because I know firsthand how important it is to not only be able to see it, but embrace it fully, especially in an increasingly self-absorbed world where critics are plentiful and cheerleaders too few and far between. I also knew from the time you were very young that, regrettably, you had inherited your dad’s inability/reticence to see that truth – and the painful consequences often associated with not seeing and believing it.
To me, second to my unconditional love, being the “mirror” you could turn to and trust when you lost sight of the truth about you was the most important gift I had to give – and the one I most wish my dad had given to me. Ironically, you have him to thank, in part, for the “breadcrumb reminders” I’ve left along the pathways of your lives – the pictures, cards, year-end letters, paper-plate, pillow and napkin notes, e-mails, Facebook and blog posts – and, hopefully, (enough) fond memories to carry you through. But one thing that won’t be here forever is me. I don’t say that to upset you. I say it to encourage you to take a moment and at least pick up the “pom poms” yourselves – if only to see how they feel.
Maybe tomorrow – and the day after that – you can give them a shake (or two) and consider the possibility that I actually may have been telling you the truth about “you” all these years – simply because it was (and is) the truth!
All My Love,