Friday, November 14, 2008

Integrated and Segrated Relationships

I am most fortunate. My choice to BE a Parent, was encouraged by a Son who could not play the role of a child. My son was born with cerebral palsy. Hence, his options were, from the get-go, limited. He would never have, at his disposal, the usual ‘tools’ and devices made readily available to most children. His mind would never process all of life’s data as other children’s minds do. I, therefore, had my early-on choices made clearer for me by the immediate demands of a Person whose opportunities in life rested more distinctly on my shoulders than would be the case for most new fathers.

I did not have the ‘luxury’ of taking the business of fatherhood on a day-by-day, develop-as-you-go proposition. My son needed someone who would agree to become One with him. Where he was not equipped with the usual capacities to develop chains of sequential thought … he needed someone to slowly, methodically, and repeatedly make distinct those elements of sequential thinking that the unimpaired brain has the customary capacity to develop … every day of every week, of every month, of every year, of his growth and development. His ability to come to a knowledge of, and develop a healthy appreciation for, Who he is, was not going to be functional.

So, he needed a surrogate participant to integrate into him … and (without his conscious awareness of it happening … or feeling of discomfort or embarrassment at having it happen) guide his growth of self-imagery and satisfaction. And, My Dear Reader, none of these considerations had even the foggy clarity or distinction of a thick morning mist as I heard that Neurologist say “Your son has cerebral palsy.” I just knew that this tiny child who looked at his Daddy with eyes of complete faith, trust, and confidence, was going to need an extraordinary man as his Dad. And I was the only candidate for the job. And I was an insecure, confused, irresponsible, totally ill-equipped specimen of a screwed-up (though consummately delightful, entertaining, caring, and loving) young man.

So, I had the choice to either grow up, become someone who I did not have a model for, an example of to study, or image to emulate … or … run (as I later learned, many choose to do.) There was only one choice for me. And I began a terrifying, challenging, scary, demanding, discouraging, daunting, and hilariously wonderful journey into becoming a Dad. Not, mind you, fulfilling a Role as a Dad figure. Oh, no! I willed my Self to take every aspect of my son, each element of my Self, and weave them together into a fabric of relationship that made us one continuous, seamless, and tightly woven tapestry of Father/Son-ism. I elected to freely reveal my fears and hesitations to him … to insure that he would know no boundaries to his freely expressing his to me. I opted to change my pace and rhythm of functioning to function in stride with his. I became Him that he could become a Me that I was (simultaneously) developing “on the wing.”

I tell you, Dear One, of this, because my Lovely Lady Muse has recently drawn me into a reflection on my relationships with my own children, while pointing out, in dramatic and distinct ways, the dichotomy between those who go through their parenting experience fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of a Parent, and those who find a way to become the Being of a Parent. And I am compelled to make an attempt to draw the distinction between the two. One functions and operates across a gap of separate individualism, whilst the other is integrated into the personhood of their child. One follows a set of dogma, doctrine, and expectations visited upon them by society, familial experience and example, and cultural dictate. While the Other joins their Self to their child in a unity of definition of Oneness. They Become one parent/child unit. And for that Unit, that parent/child identity, there is no “good for You/good for Me” debate. There is, instead, a “good for Us” understanding. There is no “As long as You are under My roof, it will be thus and so …” dictate. But, instead, there prevails a “We are made better, and can enjoy more, if we do thus and so, in our Home.” The desegregation of Parents and Children in favour of an integrated Family produces a life-long dividend of shared life-joys, as well as burdens and pain. This I have been blessed to witness, and marvel in, in the lives of Friends and Loved Ones in my little world. And the distinction and resultant loss/benefit outcomes require me to reflect on my own personal experience … and present this opportunity for you, My darling Friend, to reflect on yours.

I do hope, with every fibre of my crusty old Being, that you will allow these considerations to dwell with you for a brief moment. And apply whatever insight or idea, that your own Muse might whisper into your consciousness, toward your relationships … be they Spouse, Child, Parent, Sibling, Colleague, Lover, or Friend. I encourage you to do some Soul-Weaving with the threads and yarns of those individual characteristics, quirks, and idiosyncrasies that define those with whom you would desire a tighter, richer, more beautiful, and more satisfying relationship. You have my earnest prayer for your fuller enjoyment of every aspect of your relational life. I love you, ya know! [a loving smile]

16 comments:

Suldog said...

We are given what we need, and never any more than we can handle. I firmly believe that. And the relationships we may start out thinking we're on the giving end of, often turn out to be those we receive the most from.

You're a wise man, John-Michael, and I'm very glad we found each other on the 'net.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine only going through the motions of parenting, although sometimes one does slip into that unknowingly and must resurface. There is so much that these wonderful little beings can teach us and show us. I find every year and each stage shares something. I love seeing my boys growing into young men and I truly like them, as well as love them.

I am certain that you were, and are, an amazing Father John-Michael. Your son, as well as yourself, received the beautiful gift of one another.

Lisa L.

willow said...

I totally agree with your clarification on the role of being a parent, JM. Wise words, indeed, and very thought provoking. Your children are so incredibly lucky to have you as their father!

John-Michael said...

Fortunately, for me, and y children, My Dear Willow, I always had an awareness (though it was never codified or spoken of) of the unhappiness and emptiness that my Dad felt in his inability to be integrated into the lives of others. I sensed that he wanted to "go there," but was not equipped (by virtue of an absence of experience in receiving such a blessing, and/or any guidance or training in the art) to do so. And, I knew how I felt with the void created by the absence of that intimacy of Relationship in my Being. Hence, I came into Parenthood with this resoundingly alive awareness of the innate value of totally inclusive relationships. So, My Darling, my choices were facilitated by this state of readiness.

Your kind and generous thoughts do give me a warm and appreciative inner-smile of gratitude. Thank you!

Lovingly ...

lime said...

quite a lot of food for thought here....especially when i consider how different personalities interpret that oneness...

John-Michael said...

SulDog, Dear Friend, this Gift of our discovery of each other, is something that I enjoy reflecting on with frequent smiles and feelings of pleasant gratitude. I relish your Presence in my life. And truly do love you, Jim.

Admiringly ...

John-Michael said...

Lisa, Dear Sweet One, your unfailing kindness touches my Soul. And your thoughtful reflections are (as always) a welcome illumination.

Lovingly ...

John-Michael said...

Darling, Darling Lime ... you are ever-so right. This "food for thought" is yet another choice of considerations on life's 'Perspective Buffet.' And (as you so rightly point out) some of us find smaller helpings of this course more palatable and others might find their temperament inclined toward rejection of these views altogether. I merely serve my 'dish' up for the election of each 'Diner's' option.

Loving ...

Classic Charm said...

John-Michael,
I agree with Suldog, and I'm also so happy that your son was lucky enough to have you as his father. A lucky boy indeed!
Hugs,
Rose

Anonymous said...

Every child that faces challenges should be so fortunate to have someone like you in their life (of course there is no one just like you). I believe like Suldog that we never get more then we can handle BUT sometimes "the man upstairs" pushes that to the limit. By the way John-Michael I think you are even more handsome now then ever. You've aged or matured very nicely (coy smile).

Suldog said...

John-Michael:

I won't be posting anything for a couple of weeks, but I would feel terrible if I didn't stop by and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! You're one of the most sincere and caring individuals I know on-line, and I'm definitely thankful to have met up here.

Jim

nitebyrd said...

The Powers That Be knew you were the right person to become a Parent for your son. They are so wise.

John-Michael said...

I thank you for your constant generosity and kindness, My Darling Rose. I will be forever indebted to Life for all of the wonder and treasure that Matthew brought into my life.

Lovingly ...

John-Michael said...

Though I often doubted my abilities to sustain the test of many of those "limits" pushed to ... I am grateful for the Grace and fortitude that was gifted to me when I most needed it, My Anonymous Friend. (and I thank you for your oh-so-kind words about the tracks of the miles left on my countenance. [smile])

Lovingly ...

John-Michael said...

My Dear SulDog Friend, I can not better express my Self than the words already sent to you in the E-card. So I lovingly repeat their truth here ...

"Many have been the times, when I have been calmed, comforted, encouraged, and made comfortable, in an otherwise discomforted moment, by a thought of, or a note from, You, My friend.While I freely give my Self license to love my world, I know a place of singular endearment and fondness in my Heart ... that is yours alone. Love Ya, Jim."

Amen!

John-Michael said...

I have frequently thanked those 'Powers' for the Gift of our lovely Friendship, as well, My Dearest NiteByrd. You encourage, and make me better than I was.

I love you ...

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