Saturday, July 26, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by Alexis Dobbins with 0 comment

Loving The Man and the Father

“...don’t want to look around and be a mean, surly old man in three or four years.”

Yes, We Rise| Loving the Man and the Father

I was out with an male friend of many years, who I’ll call James. He had called, unexpectedly, inviting me to a football game, and it soon became clear that he was with me not because of any interest in renewing our weak romantic past. After about ten minutes, if that long, I was able to sense the hurt and the pain lurking behind his facade of new job, new car, and his strong push to fake it through the evening.

You see, we had been friends for the past twenty years, and I had seen him in many moods and many seasons. We worked together, and that was cool. We dated, and that wasn’t quite as cool as maybe we planned. He went through a divorce, and I was there to talk and encourage. I went through a divorce and he was there to get a laugh going, to give financial advice, and to listen. I introduced him to a friend of mine, with no sparks resulting, but I still counted him as a true friend and knew he felt the same.

For the past four or five years James had lived with someone, and I was pleased to know that he had settled down, although to be honest it seemed to me that after a year or two marriage would have been the next step. Unless there was a major issue, and in that case why were they still together?

Our history quickly rushed through my mind during the first few minutes of our meeting, and then my spirit landed on the sadness in his eyes. The dullness of his skin. The voice that was murky in both tone and spirit. I could see that he had already had a beer or two, but that was no reason for the sadness that permeated his person.

As the story came out, or as I pulled and teased out the story, my anger began to build at both James and his partner. The issue, you see, was one which continues to crop up as I speak with all sorts of men - single, separated, divorced.

“She doesn’t get along with my son(s)/daughter(s).”

How do we get here, and more importantly, why do we stay here? If you love him, how can you not love his child?

I attempted to ask about the quality of their relationship when my friend was not around. In other words, what did they do when he was not in the house?

“How do things go when they go to the mall together, or the movies, just the two of them?” I asked. “Is it better when they relate to each other outside of you?”

I was amazed at his response, indicating that they do nothing together. “Her relationship with him is pretty much good morning, are you hungry, and some days that’s it.”

This child isn’t really a child. He’s a fifteen-year old young male, bright, intelligent, and seemingly easy to love. He spends the summer and some holidays with his dad. And his dad’s woman. Granted, he brings the baggage of all divorced children – the “why did you take my father/mother away” whether or not there is any truth to that thought. But that’s who children are. Children mourn the loss of a primary family unit. That’s what children do.

Adults, now, what do we do? Again, how do you love him and not his child? How is it impossible to see the qualities you adore in your man, in the eyes of your man’s child? Those qualities may not be completely formed, but then, he/she is a child. The walk you love, the voice you adore, those hands and feet that you sleep with every night, how can you dislike a smaller version in the presence of a child?

Somewhere on that Saturday evening was a woman who didn’t understand where her man was, or why he was away from home. I’d like to tell her that it wasn’t me. It wasn’t about me at all. I represented someone who understood that love is all he needed, both for himself and for the child who is a part of him. I really could have been anyone, I just happened to be home and was willing to go to a football game, willing to listen.

I don’t know the answer to their particular issues around his son. I do know, however, that love isn’t about issues, ‘cause they are always there. It’s about how we handle them.

If I thought it would be okay, I’d call her and tell her to just love them. She obviously knows how to love him. Love both of them. It’s not much for a brother to ask.


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