My daughter starts her high school years today. It’s been quite journey for her mother and I. Lucy is easily the best thing that ever happened to us. I never thought about being a father, not once. If it happened, fine, if not, that would have been fine too. But the love of my life wanted to have a family and so a father I would be. I had no expectations other than I knew I would not be a great Dad. My focus has always been work, I love my job and I love to do that job (apart from meetings!). So I cringed every time I heard Harry Chapin’s song “Cats in the Cradle” on the radio. That would be me. I would be a supportive, fun and interesting Dad, not too hard on a child, ready to praise her when the moment was right. But I knew my weakness would be time, and I would not be around as much as I should.
I was blessed to have the best mother in the world as my partner. Kim was born to be a mother, she has the perfect combination of fun, discipline, praise, critical feedback, unconditional love, brains, creativity and nurture. Lucy won the lottery when she met Kim, who could have a better parent? As it turned out, it was not planned, Kim was more interested in staying home and managing the household and raising Lucy than working outside the home. Lots of traditionalists like to say that is the way it should be, neither Kim nor I agree. Lots of parents work outside the home and do a great job at parenting. This arrangement just worked for us. I love to work, and three different jobs just fell in my lap. The more I worked, the more Kim parented at home, the more obvious it was that we both liked the set up. It stuck.
A friend of mine once joked that never in a million years did he expect his feminist friend Kevin to have a home arrangement like I do. Guilty. I am as surprised as anyone. Lucy benefitted but not because Kim was home but because she saw both her parents doing what they loved to do. She also benefitted because of how calm we were (well emotionally in my case, physically calm is not a description any sane person would ever give to me!). I think Lucy has heard yelling in our home no more than 5 times in her life and most of those were Kim or I yelling at ourselves for doing something stupid. Lucy also grew up with no conventional wisdom, no prescribed “common sense”, everything was open to discussion. We endlessly would talk things out. The bottom line was always, “is this considerate of others”. That was the question that had to be answered, whatever we were debating.
And what did Lucy bring to this home life? Everything. Lucy is brilliant, far smarter than us, creative, considerate, funny and she does not take herself too seriously. Because we praised her when her talent and hard work came together as one she came to know when she was achieving her goals and when she was coasting. We never pushed her to do anything but think of others, so all of her academic and art work has been self-driven. Lucy has adopted her mother’s “comfortable in her own skin” persona, her father’s work ethic and she brings her own unique creative spark. Who knows where that will take her? Today it took her to grace 10. Her teachers will be blessed to have her in their class. We are blessed to have her in our lives.