On of the most important things to me, when I think of my future, is being a good parent. I stress sometimes thinking about how to be a good Dad. I didn't have the most prime example, my rents got divorced when I was 12 years old. I had a lot of men (and Re Re) who set an example for me on the way one should raise a kid. I have the task of putting together the best attributes and try to pass them on to my daughter or son. Here are some of the things that I want to pass along to my child:
I want to be very handy around the house, be able to fix, build, have cool stuff. I got this from Ed Sanfilippo. He was always in the garage working on something. On top of that, he took Jason and I camping, and most importantly, never told Jason that he was too busy doing something. I get very preoccupied with things and I have to be careful not to let anything come before my wife or children.
I want to let my kids try new things, this was ReRe's strength. I used to joke around that Re Re was my dad because she lived with us for a couple years after Dad had left. She always tried new things with me, she let me drive her car all the time, even when I was really too young, she would take me around the neighborhood on her lap and let me steer the car. I think when I was thirteen of fourteen she took me out driving quite often. Then came the rollerblade era. We used to laugh when she said she wanted to buy rollerblades, but by God she did it. When we went to Erie to visit her, she didn't have a lot of money but she did have rollerblades, she was not the fastest, but she was pretty steady and managed not to break any bones!!! I hope that I will not only allow my child to participate in things but also try to participate with them, until I am some old dude who embarasses them.
I want to be very involved in my child's life, activities, and social development. I look at the way Mike McKinney was always involved in his daughters life. He had a house full of girls, he could have left it all to mom and no one would have blamed him. He was a starter, scorekeeper, and coach for their swimming and softball teams, he was the husband of a troop leader and an honorary Girl Scout. He never missed many drill meets in ROTC, he made most soccer games, and overall was very involved in what the girls had going on. I don't want to be pushy about it, sometimes parents don't realize that their child will grow more without their shadow, but if they want me involved, I hope to be there.
The most important thing to me, the largest focus for me, and the hardest thing to do as a parent is to be the Cool Parent. I am not talking about wanting your kids to like you so much that you buy them alcohol, drugs, or $200 shoes. No no, I want to be the neighborhood Dad. I had a great example of the neighborhood cool parent. My mom made our house the neighborhood clubhouse. It is so easy to learn social skills and have fun in your own home. My mom had to say no to certain requests, my mom spoiled us when appropriate, and she always welcomed our friends as if they were her children. The sleepovers were usually at my house, the basketball games were usually at my house, the after-prom party was at my house. I know it cost her an arm and a leg to keep 18 kids fed, but she did it by herself. She taught a whole group of us how to put on a condom so we would know how to have safe sex, I don't even think they ratted her out to their parents. When I see people, my friends from school, they always ask about her, if I had a nickel for every time I heard "I just love your mom" I would be living in Key West doing nothing. Even my ex-girlfriends miss my mom more than they miss me. My mom was loved dearly by the neighborhood boys. When my parents split, they checked on her all the time, even if Andy and I were gone with my dad or camp or something. Clint used to see her car coming home late from work and would take his dog Toby and come visit with my mom while Andy and I were in bed. That is pretty cool to get teenagers to care about anything outside of themselves. I hope I can create a home environment where I know my kids and thier friends are safe and comfortable. I hope all of them will come to me with issues, questions, and share their lives with me.
This whole post was inspired by Marlies, who saw my mom for the second or third time in her life, after dinner we stopped to get my car keys. My mom hugged her like a long lost friend, said "come see me anytime, even without Amanda or Jon." The difference is she meant it. I remembered how proud I am of my mother and the way she raised Andy and I. Then I thought/worried about the way that I am going to parent my children, and who else I would emmulate. Marlies said it best about my mother; "Your mom is awesome."