Imma be me

I wrote in a notebook: “I want to be the Alton Brown of jiu jitsu.” I didn’t do anything with it, and stumbled across it later. I tapped my pencil on it (I like to do my initial draft of things freehand) and thought abut the phrase. It’s no longer what I want. Not at all. If I were to write an aspirational mission statement this moment, it would be: “I want to be the best version of myself I can.”

Tragedies and stressors can be useful, in that when things are settling down, you have an opportunity to look at how you’re living your life. You decide if you want to reassemble it with all the same pieces, or get rid of some crap and make or find new pieces.

I wrote a long post on Friday. So much of the text was tied to that day, and was to be published immediately. I wrote abut how it was my service anniversary, and how I had very different but very involved situations as a supervisor on the 18th. Then The Little One had multiple seizures, a helicopter ride, and a bad hospital stay to deal with. My contented insights no longer felt appropriate.

Plus, it was anchored around Agent Orange’s weird-but-good cover of Metallica’s “Seek and destroy.”

Still, tragedies aside, I am content, for the first time in a long time. I accept my circumstances and decisions, and the path they’ve illuminated for me. I accept I will not have many moments of comfort, that I will have to remain fluid, that aside from God and gravity, there is very little in this world upon which I can depend. My contentedness and acceptance of turmoil and uncertainty will serve as a darned serviceable makeshift solid thing, a piece of driftwood upon which to cling. I will accept all of this, and I will be myself.

And also, Imma be me because the Alton Brown of jiu jitsu is basically Batman. I can’t handle that at this moment. But when that baby singsongs “Dad’s home!” as I walk through the door, stumbleruns to me, and hugs my knees, I am an invincible superhero.

Intentional Fatherhood

A few years ago I read an interview with the rapper Lil’ Wayne in which he claimed that he was the best father in the world- it rubbed me the wrong way. Here was a man who had been a celebrity from a very young age, addicted to fame, and praise, and money. He had been in trouble with the law time and again for weapons and drug charges, and served a year in prison. He had deluded himself in to living the life most rappers just lie about, like some sort of method rapper.

Surely fatherhood is more than buying your kids junk they don’t need with money you got for warbling about misusing prescription cough syrup and conjugating the most debased , pornographic, misogynistic garbage you can comprehend. What about leading by example? Moral instruction? Discipline? Maybe Birdman Jr.’s values system is so skewed that he really is relatively a great example of a father, but I doubt it. I don’t have all the answers, but I know that my role as a father is a bigger responsibility than many men have been willing or able to shoulder. I know that my duty to raise my children, to teach them about fostering healthy relationships, and what they’re worth, and about courage and hard work is daunting. I know that sometimes I’m too tired from work or too busy to give them the attention they deserve, and it hurts me, but not as much as it hurts them.

So I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to keep praying with them when I tuck them in, pray over them as they sleep when I leave for work in the morning, keep talking to other dads about being a dad, keep telling them how special they are, keep reading books about being a better dad, keep pursuing mastery of my vocation… and while I do it, I’ll make sure to make plenty of time to play ponies, and wrestle, and drink imaginary cups of tea.