This fairly well sums up our society, even more my generation.
For the life of my oldest child, I’ve been trying to live a compartmentalized life. I’ve been trying to balance being a good dad with writing music, recording and engineering, playing outside, being romantic with my wife, watching a guy movie, watching a kiddie movie, being a rock-star in my head, poetry, the Church that I’m a part of…
You may wonder, “Why can’t those things go together?” You’re right. It’s a good question. Many of these can go together. But not all of them.
If I am honest with myself, (and I am certainly striving to be) I will admit that many of the aspirations of young John Robert Cullimore have been hanging around this fully grown, bearded, father of three and a half little girls Papa John.
Now and then me and rock-n-roll John like to visit with one another. He’s 19, and he loves making music. He’d love to spend hours and hours late into the night being creative and neglecting all other forms of life.
There’s also recording engineer John. He’s a fun guy to chit-chat with. He loves to drift off fantasizing about Steve Albini, Gene Eugene and Steve Hindalong. He imagines that one day he’ll make a recording opus that will cause men, women and children to press play on their audio device, and be so enraptured with the sounds that they cannot help but halt their day and listen to the album from start to finish.
Thus far, these fellows have a very hard time with being a father at the same time as being who they are. They’re hindered by the incessant questions of five-year-olds, and they’d like for those around them to appreciate what they’re doing for what it truly is.
When I hang out with these two very often, usually I get that sick feeling in my stomach. You know the feeling. . . that sense that you’re not where you’re meant to be. You want it, sure, but it’s like a vampire on your soul. It only takes away from life. It never satisfies. It never gives new life.
Again, this doesn’t simply apply to parents, it’s all of us as we grow up. The fact of the matter is that life changes. We change. Lament for a moment then move on.
I found myself looking some of these ghosts in the eye over the weekend. That sense of unease was all about me. I was torn with what to do with myself. I had taken my family away for a weekend of peace and quiet. I had aspirations of writing new music and having creativity flow out from me… oh, and to be a good dad and do super cool stuff with the kids.
Can you guess which one happened?
Well, it wasn’t the creativity. I was an awesome dad if I do say so myself. I hiked, read, climbed, played, swam, threw and ate ice cream with the best of them. It was awesome.
Once, just once, I sat down to write. I felt so empty inside. It’s not that I’m not supposed to write, it’s that I wanted the kids to go away. I wanted to be done with that, so I could be this other thing. I made some neat beats and sounds, and I listened, dissatisfied.
The girls loved it, but I felt so empty about it.
I turned off the computer and played hard.
Again, I’m not saying that I’m not supposed to write. I’m saying that the heart behind it is what’s killing me. My intentions have been to separate things. To take off one hat and wear another.
There’s a lot of freedom in giving up and starting over. I truly believe this. In acceptance lyeth peace. Right?
So I had stopped myself. For those few hours I would have stopped everything if I felt God wanted me to. I knew that wasn’t the case, but I had to figure out what it was God was saying to me.
I let it go. We had an amazing night, and the next morning we got up to start on another day of adventure. . .
Sitting in the lobby of the hotel having breakfast, I was casually watching the Today show. I know, that’s a bit outside of my box. But none the less, I was enjoying myself. All of the sudden there was an interview with the girl who played Blossom back in the day, Mayim BIalik. She talked about attachment parenting, unschooling, and the general idea of what it is to be a parent in our day and age.
Now, she has some pretty extreme views on some things, but she’s on to something, and she stands firm in what she’s saying. More importantly, she lives what she’s saying. She lives it with conviction.
One thing in particular really caught me. (and keep in mind that I’m totally paraphrasing here) She was speaking about how our society often looks at the ways she’s doing things as weird; the long term nursing, attachment parenting in general, and unschooling as a whole. But the truth of the matter is, our society has learned to hold on to this idea of individual identities and lives that only serve to separate us from one another.
She took this further when she said that a parent needs to look at life, surrender their identity as an individual, and accept their identity as parent. When you choose to make this life, you are choosing to commit to them for the duration.
This is now your occupation.
We’ve truly downplayed the nobility of this. But I get to say three amazing words that define me. This is who I am.
I am dad!
(more to come)