As a teenager I wanted to be a father. That is unusual for teenage boys, their minds tend to focus on making babies, not raising them. But I wanted that. I wanted a Christmas morning when my children would come running in and wake me up because they couldn’t wait any longer. I wanted to feel my child wrap their arms around my leg as we left a tear-jerker kiddie movie.
My first wife and I tried for eight years to have a child. She had some fertility issues, but eventually it happened. Just five months after the wonderful event I was asked to leave. During the divorce I gave her two options. I was not going to be some estranged guy my child hardly knew, someone he dreaded seeing two weekends a month or what-have-you. My child was either going to know me or going to have no clue. The options were, I see my child every single day or she tells him that I died when he was young. It was an all-or-nothing approach, but having been the child of a divorce and forced to see my father two weeks out of the year, I knew that the half-a-loaf approach doesn’t work.
I got what I wanted. Every single day, hard as it was to spend time in my ex’s home, I spent time with my child. On week nights we would do homework, watch tv, and play games. On weekends we would go to a movie or Frankie’s Fun Park or out to lunch, or other father-child activities. I missed a few days due to illness or work. As he (now she) got older her own interests sometimes stepped in. That was fine. That is what parenting is. Still, she knew me. I was Dad. Sometimes savior, sometimes pain in the ass. But that is what Dads is.
However, because of this arrangement I never got a Christmas morning. The expression between a father and son is a little tricky, and with this unique situation the deep emotional quality of being a father was hard to come by. I never got my dream even though I have a child I am proud of. I had new dreams anyway. Dreams of sitting around the Christmas tree with my child and his family. Grandchildren and the way they love and dislike grumpy ol’ grandpa. The future expanding outward from the present.
After my second divorce I learned that I have Social Anxiety Disorder. I won’t go into details here as that is fully explained in an earlier post, see Why I have this Blog. As I was learning about S.A.D.. Damn, I hate that acronym. I’m sure some psychologist thought they were being really cute when they coined Social Anxiety Disorder. Anyway, as I was learning about S.A.D. I also learned about my child’s transgendered state. Suddenly the dreams of spoiling grandchildren, of my son and his wife coming to visit all died.
“… As new life will come from death . . . ” (Thank you, Moody Blues)
Dreams are like clay, moldable, malleable, flexible. When one dream dies, from its ashes a new dream arises. It takes time for those dreams to form and take wings. Like a seedling in the rotting splinters of a fallen oak, they start out small, scarcely resembling their forerunner. But given time and nurturing, they take their own shape and spread their limbs and bury their roots deep into your soul. They will become as important as the dreams that didn’t make it. Every fisherman has the tail of the one that got away, and the big one they landed.
My new dreams are saplings now. So small I do not really recognize them as dreams. But I know they are there. It happened before. When one dream died a new one took its place. I know it will happen again. I am waiting for those small hoped-for thoughts to become large enough to make their presence known. I will keep peace with my soul so they can flourish. Dwelling on the ones that got away prevent me from being open to the ones that are growing within me now.
The death of a dream is not the demise of dreaming.