I recently was introduced to the blogging fathersphere. There I found a lot of really cool Dads who spend a lot of time reflecting on fatherhood and making some excellent points about the whole experience. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was asked for advice, being the newcomer and all. Turns out, having 8 kids gives me some ‘street cred’ with some online dads.
It got me thinking about what I actually do know about fatherhood. Although I know a bunch of tips and tricks, many of them are just reacting to the situation, so I can’t think of them in a vacuum. I did, however, keep coming back to this idea over and over:
My job as a parent is to work myself out of a job.
Parents of 1 or 2 children may not easily recognize this, but being vastly outnumbered has forced this realization upon me.
While many parents cling to the little moments of childhood, I have been forced to acknowledge and appreciate them, and then move on immediately. (Ok- maybe I get a digital picture of it so in 15 years I can go through my Picasa and weep.) In the meantime, there are 3 kids who are hungry, 2 who are missing and only 1 who has socks on. This is not sustainable. Nor is it good parenting.
I am not up to this job. I have to work myself out of it.
I can say this because in many respects, I have begun to do so, and have found it to be a successful strategy. Anyone who has met my oldest children can tell you that they do not officially need their parents. No, it does not mean I am done with them. No, it does not mean they have nothing left to learn from me. No, it does not mean that they are ignored or left to make it on their own.
It does mean that they have grown and matured to a point that they are helping me work with the other children more than I am working with them. To put it into cold, unfeeling terms, the projects have become project managers. Alternatively, the gifts have begun giving, and not just to me, but to their siblings and the rest of the world.
That is, after all what it’s all about. Isn’t it?