Yeah, you read that right. This post was inspired by last week’s episode of Survivor along with a series of events before and after the episode that crystallized in my mind today. So sit back, grab your beverage of choice and settle in because this will be a longer than normal post with raw emotion and pointed comments for some readers. It will also reflect strong emotions which might surprise some—but not my kids and that reinforces the point of this post.
Let me start by setting the stage. Last night, the three authors of this blog met to hang out and share our collective wisdom with each other as we are wont to do about monthly. However, this meeting was disrupted by the joyous revelation that one of the authors was about to become a grandfather…again (guess who 🙂 ) I couldn’t be happier for him, his family and everyone with any relationship connected to the new baby who should be part of their family by the time this post goes live. I’m sure she will bring oodles of love and joy and fulfillment to all of you,
His excitement and pride made me think of my own role as father…since I’m not a grandfather yet and in no rush to get there because I want my kids to make that life decision on their own time and under their own criteria. Nonetheless, I will treasure that role once it comes my way, but not nearly as much as I’ve treasured the role of dad. I’ve stated in multiple venues and to many of my friends relatives and acquaintances that I’ve never wanted anything more than to be a dad. Some of you smile when I say that and others get mad, jealous or scared that maybe that means I don’t love you the way you think I do. Don’t go there and don’t worry. Let me explain why I say that and what brought me to that conviction.
I am related to six people by direct blood connection. Four of those people have been with me since birth or shortly after (mother, father, siblings) and two have been with me for approximately the past two decades. Ever hear the phrase “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family?” Let me tell you, the connotation behind that phrase couldn’t be more true for me. I’ve picked many great friends and people who love me and whom I love with my entire being. You know who you are (I hope) and you should know how much I treasure the relationship we have, but there is a uniqueness about the people you share blood, genes, DNA, saliva, etc with And until my children were born, I’ve never felt the love I feel from you coming from a blood relative. I came to this realization last week while watching Survivor.
During last week’s episode, each of the remaining contestants had the opportunity to reunite with a loved one as a reward to help them get through the last few days of the Survivor challenge. Some contestants saw their children, parents, siblings or significant others. When one of the contestants met their brother on the mat, the host, Jeff Probst, Talked about the special bond that siblings share that creates a connection that others simply cannot understand. That concept is foreign to me because I don’t share that bond with my siblings. Never have and even though I’ve tried to be a good brother and build that relationship over time, I still don’t feel that. The other two blood relatives–the people who HAVE to love you–missed most of my youth and young adult life either because of working two full time jobs or putting their entertainment and self interest first. It’s hard when young people become parents and don’t have the opportunity to live their own lives and that can lead to lack of connection and inability to show love. Fortunately, I have seen others who had children early–like my grandfather friend and his wonderful wife–who didn’t take that route and showered their children with love, spent all the time they could together and build strong, solid relationships that benefit them and their children. They are a model for me, my wife and anyone who knows them,. Thanks for being the example I didn’t have so that I could follow your lead with my children.
But I digress. I spent almost three decades waiting to see if I could have that relationship with someone who didn’t have the choice to have a relationship with me. It was a void that led me to dark thoughts, searches for love in the wrong places, self-doubt, and raw fear. Luckily, I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest dreams and our children have allowed me to build the relationship I never had and still don’t have with my other blood relatives. They filled the void and helped me focus on positive things, realize what love really means, build self-confidence and have the courage to overcome challenges I never thought I could face. I don’t know what I would do without any of the people who love me in my life. My children simply bring something that they are uniquely equipped to provide me and I’m grateful for that gift. That will always be special to me and guide my decisions because of how long I went without.
Congratulations again to the new parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. I know none of you watch Survivor and I also know you don’t need to for that baby girl to grow up knowing how much she is loved.