Growing Up on Father’s Day

by Caleb Gardner | June 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm | comments

Father and Sons Reading

I was having a conversation with a friend recently about what it’s like to be a parent. He has older children, so he’s a little ahead of the game compared to me. We were talking about how difficult it is to make the transition into parenthood — how it’s such a big lifestyle change; how suddenly you have this little human who is completely dependent on you for every need, physically and emotionally. A task as simple as planning dinner becomes less about what two of you are in the mood for, and more about what is going to fulfill our growing boys.

My friend compared it to the changes that happen when your child transitions into adulthood. Suddenly this kid who has depended on you for everything doesn’t want to depend on you for anything. He wants to learn how to go it alone, to prove that he’s an adult. At both age 12 and 2, they are learning to cope with the changing dynamics of their bodies, while having to learn emotional self-maintenance and stability.

And in both cases, my friend said, despite what is happening with our children, they are the ones inviting us to grow up.

This is my fourth Father’s Day since my oldest son was born. I worry so much about his growth and development that I’ve never stopped to consider how much I’ve grown in the last four years. I’ve learned to set my everyday wants aside, while gaining a greater understanding of the importance of self-care. But most importantly, at least to me, I’ve learned to be content in the everyday nuances of a seemingly “dull” life, finding joy in small victories as much as in grand adventures. From playing in the backyard, to first rides on the Chicago “L”, I realize how fleeting these moments together truly are at this age.

The Together CountsTM Program promotes the importance of family meals and time together as an avenue for strengthened family health, emotionally and physically. It’s during these small moments together that I’m able to see my two little men grow from babies, to toddlers, teenagers and one day parents themselves. As they grow up, our entire family grows up as well.

When Miles reaches that arc of adulthood, I know he’s going to invite me to grow up in different ways. He’s going to encourage me to let go of him and let him make mistakes. He’s going to increasingly invite me to see him as an equal. And it’s going to be really hard. But growing up always is.

At least at that age, we can more consciously grow up together. I’m hoping we’ll both be able to admit when it’s hard and when we make mistakes, and gain a new respect for each other. The health of our relationship beyond this household depends on it.

This Father’s Day, I think it’s important to reflect on all the ways we’ve had to grow up as parents. In what ways have you had to grow up? Are you honest with yourself about how hard it’s been?

For more Father’s Day ideas, check out these Together Counts resources: