“Why does Daddy have to go to work?”
My oldest looks anxious. I convinced myself long ago, night shift would get easier… but it only seems to be more devastating for him with age.
“So we can live in our beautiful house and eat food together and go to Disney World and much more,” I respond.
“I understand, I guess. But I still want Daddy. I like when he’s here at night.”
“I know buddy, me too. But Mommy will keep you safe too.”
“I just miss him.”
It dawned on me at that moment, this had nothing to do with safety and everything to do with our togetherness.
I remember when I was a kid, the dull grief- filled ache I felt in my belly when my dad went to work. This had a tremendous impact on my world. I understood why he had to go, but deep down I wanted him home. I wanted us to be a family. I wanted to do things together. I always believed, our lives shouldn’t ‘look this way’. School was a stressful place for me, my mom was always busy around the house, and my dad was visibly stressed from his job. I couldn’t shake the feeling that we all needed so much more.
I knew, in the depth of my heart, there was a better way to live. I just didn’t know what it looked like, or how to even convey this message. Instead, I shoved that part deep down where no one could find it, the parts of me that believed there was more to life than school and exhaustion and work.
My parents divorced when I was in high school and I stopped believing in family and togetherness. I convinced myself, this is all there is, it’s as good as it gets, and I should be grateful for what I have. I should be happy with a roof over my head, food in my belly and parents to work for the things that made me comfortable.
But, as I listen to my son tonight… and feel the misery swimming in his chest, I’m thrown back into the childhood pain I buried down deep in the caverns of my heart. I remember that vision, so strong it knocks the wind from my lungs. I remember wondering, why my father had to work so much. I remember wanting… more.
I felt my son’s pain, the sadness in his 9-year-old body. I felt the parts of him tugging against what is ‘right’ and what is ‘fair’. It seems ‘right’ that daddy works to pay the bills, but it’s not fair it comes at a cost to our family.
He too wants togetherness.
He too wishes for a life greater than this.
He too believes in a world MORE filling, satisfying and more healing.
I think the wound he carries, is restlessness for deeper connection.. to life, to family and to love. I think we all do.
We’ve buried this truth down deep encased in a crystal box so no one can touch it, but we recognize it when we see it. Instead, we bought into this belief, that work is the avenue to great love and success. We live into this reality: slave for our money. Working the machine is to receive our fair share. This is the foundation of all that is.
Except, it’s not.
My son reminds there is no truth here. Through his pleading eyes, through his tortured heart I see, there’s much more than this. What’s important, is the love that moves between us. He shows me how to understand this and how to make time and space for him. He’s happiest when Daddy is playing legos immersed in their imaginary Star Wars world. He’s filled with love when we hike into the woods in search of giant tree branches. He’s joyful when we wander to the stream in our neighborhood, the moments we throw away time and breathe in life’s adventures.
It’s simple, pure and REAL.
My son tells me, every day without words,
how important it is to him that our family is together.
The evidence breathing in the absence of our togetherness is ever- present. It’s fresh and it’s agonizing. It’s painful to remember because, in this modern world, it feels IMPOSSIBLE to live a life where family togetherness is the core essence of health and wellness.
We (as children AND adults) are not taught or encouraged to seek and nurture the family bond. We’re taught to work first and if/ when there is space for it, we see our kids. We pat our them on the head and tell them we love them, and promise them another day, but another day never comes.
They long for us. In a world built for them, they’re whispering messages to us, of tribes and truth, they beg us to remember, magic lives inside of them.
Our children crave our knowledge. Not for math or science, but the ancient medicine of family bonds. They crave our wisdom. They call for our vision. They long for us to know they’re natural cycles, to understand their fears and find ways to move through them together. They yearn for exploration in the backyard, they pray for us (their parents) to break down our walls and be free with them again. They’re excited to dream, imagine and create WITH us. They want to be encouraged to collect feathers and rocks, to listen to God’s voice singing in the trees and to dig deep in the dirt, to chase butterflies and talk to frogs.
They want more, I think we do too… but we’ve forgotten to remember because it hurts so fucking much.
It is not our career, or soccer practice, or swim team or school, or grades, it is lost in the want for MORE.
It is the alchemy of the family unit, working together in the pursuit of the never-ending soul hunger for genuine authentic relationships. It is rich in power and purpose. It is ever-present, stirs the longing in our bellies and moves melodically between our tribe. Our children need us to see them, so they are safe to reveal their truth and empowered to FEEL, without a deadline, and without pressure, on their own terms. Our children NEED us to be available so they feel loved in the most unconditional way possible.
Our children are eager to SHARE with us their secrets so we MUST create space FIRST. We MUST expose ourselves in sincerity and vulnerability so they understand it is safe to follow our lead. We must be courageous enough to remember the yearning for our soul tribe.
When we shift our awareness to this memory, despite the soreness, we can feel the weight of its purpose. If we listen carefully, we’ll hear the truthful hum of resonance in our body. It is the same sensation that inspires us to seek what is truly important. When we lend ourselves to the painful memory of family togetherness, we are free to move through a sacred journey of love, imagination and discovery, an endless river of healing that shapes us into the tribe that was always meant to be.
And that is something, no amount of money can buy.