A Father of Brothers
by Archie Wortham
"I love you just as much as I love your brother, just
differently," I told Jeremy one day, when we got into the
omnipresent why do I have do certain thing, and he doesn't. Or where's mine,
when dad forgot to get the exact same toy, shirt, or life he gave the other
child? Know what I mean moms and dads? No matter how much you try, there always
seems to be some current rivalry you as a parent have to explain so they
understand you love them all, just differently. If you have more
than one child, you soon realize you cannot love them the same. Your love for them is as
different as they are, and somehow, you find that you have the capacity to find
ways to love you didn't know existed.
I never will forget the day I said to Myles, "Come here son."
Jeremy was stunned. I felt the thoughts. That's my name. How can he be your
son, too? How can you give him all the things that were mine to him? Am I not
still special? These were but a few of his thoughts I'm sure; a few meanderings
he drifted into and out of as he learned that dad was capable of loving them
both. But he and dad had to learn that dad could only love them the way they let
dad love them. Sometimes that's not easy.
It's not easy being a dad, or being a son with a brother or
sister who wants all of dad's attention. And they do. It's as if you'd think
we had a clan of Hatfields and McCoys, Jets and Sharks, Montagues and Capulets
living under the same roof. After the feud is over, and
they are tired of the senseless squabble, they realize dad indeed does
love them both. What's more important, they find ways to show dad how they love
him, by simply loving each other.
I've often felt I was put on this earth to be a dad. It's a
struggle, and one I'm not sure I'm worthy of as I try my best with two boys
with the hardest heads I know. There's constantly a game of mine,
is...is not, my dad, no my dad or mom, going on. Yet before I can
check birth certificates to be sure they're ours, they've resolved whatever
feeble issue they were feuding over, and many times have done it without mine or
their mom's officiating or interfering. That makes you feel good--to realize
they are learning to respect each other, and understand that no matter what they
will be around for each other. As a parent, you think...maybe they will grow
up realizing how much you and mom really loved them--by deciding to give them a
little brother or sister.
People tell me constantly, they often question how God could
find it so amusing to have given them two children, one like mom, and one like
dad. For those of you who have more than two, try adding amicable Aunt so
and so, unctuous Uncle you know who, or your own dad or mom. The fact is, no two
people are alike, so why should you expect your children to be alike? I mean, it
would be too easy. Wouldn't it? It would be like a class you'd taught, or taken.
If the classes were the same, can you imagine how boring that would be? I don't
want to imagine it. They are not clones, thank Heaven.
I can't explain the depth of my love for my boys sometimes. I
get irritated, annoyed, and wonder if I ever am going to get my life back. I get
frustrated when they refuse to listen, totally floored when they figure out
something I didn't even know or thought of, as they remind me I'm as much a
student as I am a teacher in this relationship. Can any of you dads relate to
being taught something by your kids? Can you also remember teaching your dad
something, and sharing the real experience of being...for that moment, equal?
Rare though they may be, those moments are truly special. Those moments are
equally important to brothers and sisters who learn from each other. Dads, ever
heard yourself say... "If you do that, mom will get all over you," or "if you
want dad to really be happy, I think you should do this." Sound familiar? Ever
noticed how many of our reactions are driven not by the things we do, but rather
how our feelings remain constant, based on who we are?
I often tell Jeremy, I'll always love him no matter what he
does. I may not like some of things. But he understands I'll always forgive him,
and of course he'll have to suffer the wrath of parental judgment or earn the
right and responsibility to mete out his own punishment for breaking a rule. In this
process, it's interesting when his brother Myles is an accessory. As
long as Myles gets punished too; as long as Myles shares the burden or the
consequence of disobedience; as long as Myles is truly loved as much, no matter
how differently, then whatever we do to Jeremy is okay. I think that's the
key to establishing true bonds between siblings. If the rewards and punishments
are appropriately and equitably issued, later in life it's easier for them to
really understand how much we wanted them to love each other. They may not see
that we loved equally, just that we loved them. Maybe that's the key that will
unlock many doors for them when mom and dad are gone.
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