Well a belated Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year to everyone!
I’ve been preoccupied with much lately… work, family, aging parents… the usual stuff.
I have found myself becoming reflective over Christmas time. A time I mostly enjoy. Yet, like many of us, times of greatest joy are double-edged in that they serve also as the times of greatest opportunity for disappointment and hurt. We risk feeling left out, let down, etc.
Today, my kids are up with their Mom who is able at this time to provide a much more affluent lifestyle for them than I am. For some strange reason, as much as I have experienced recovery and growth, this fact still niggles at me. Am I envious? Perhaps. Do I still have some regret of my financial losses of years ago? Perhaps. Am I worried that I may be competing with the other parent for loyalties, and that I will lose a the competition if the playing field is purchased fun? Yes, I think that is it.
Do I worry that my kids look at me as a failure because I am less affluent? Ya, gotta be honest, that is present too.
Do I worry that my kids will centre their lives around fun-seeking in ways their affluent side always has? Yes. Do I worry they are learning to be shallow, showy, and self-centred? Yes.
The facebook feed of pictures from the winter wonderland post-Christmas vacay they are on right now is getting a bit much. It feels like flaunting. It probably is. As teens and young adults, my kids will naturally want to show off to their friends all the fun they have. Don’t we all? I have to be honest, I do.
Are we that petty? Even those of us who have experienced a measure of recovery from the depths of pain and calamity? Yes. It is part of the human condition. Most of us, at heart, are fun-seekers, fun-worshippers, and show-offs. At least in part.
My conscious mind knows that I have been so much more valuable to my kids than being a Disneyland Dad. I am a recovering Dad, an honest Dad, a resourceful Dad, a go-to Dad. My kids saw me lose it all and rise again. They saw me re-marry an amazing woman, change careers, start a business that continues to grow, care for family, be a stand-in Dad to my step kids, and be loyal and available to them 24-7.
They know I take a nice vacation every year, drive a brand new company vehicle, own our own home, and enjoy other blessings that many others don’t. Yet part of my internal dialogue tells me the privileges they enjoy are grander.
Why do I worry? Why do I compete? What unhealthy, unrecoverd part of me is still sensitive to the affluence competition? What unhealthy part of me is envious? What overshadows the immense gratitude I normally feel for the life I was blessed with today?
Has our culture, so steeped in the pursuit of fun, permeated me, the non-conformist?
All I can do is be honest, put it out there, and surrender it. Just for today.