Wednesday, October 18, 2006

thoughts of a parent and child

I remember after Al and I were married and moved away from her parents and mine, we would travel to visit them, or they would come visit us. We would talk, find something to do together, catch up. After we had children, the visits to our place picked up. The grandparents couldn’t stay away. The kids were always the focus of attention, and the motivation for the visit. I remember thinking how it must have been awkward before, when there were no kids to come see, to measure against the last visit, to tease and tickle and wrestle.
I was thinking about this today and remembering how much more rewarding it was to have my parents come to see my children than for them to come merely to visit me. It may have been the first time that I ever felt that I had done something for them. For I had done precisely what they had done and I was following after them. I followed them as a parent, I’d become what they were to me, and we all basked in it. I was honoring my parents by imitating them. Intensely, I felt their pleasure when I offered them my children to love and hug and kiss and enjoy.
Honestly, the more I thought about this, the more I thought about how incomplete Al and I must have felt before the kids came. We didn’t know it, but now it is impossible to imagine normal meals without kids around the table, to imagine trips home without the grumpy kids in the car, to imagine going camping without the animals we’re bringing back to the woods, or at least thinking about the fact that we’ve left them at home. Who were we before we had kids? There is an entirely new and added definition to me with the addition of kids. My identity grows to include “dad”.
My children steal away focus and attention in visits with my parents, but in doing so bring me closer to my parents. Irony. I more fully understand Mom and Dad, and I share something with them that I never knew before. I feel I honor them by becoming what they were to me, and I feel their pleasure.

Of course I can’t think about these things without pondering the added perspective I have for attempting to understand the relationship God desires to have with me. I think of joy and frustration He feels as Father. I think of my desire to imitate Him in being creative and creating. As when I feel my parents’ pleasure when they experience my children, I feel His pleasure when I attempt to imitate Him. I feel His smile when I use the tools He’s given me to share the thoughts He’s given me. I feel His smile upon the children I lift up to Him in my attempt to make Him obvious to them, to teach them to imitate Him and seek to feel His pleasure.

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