I’m packing and getting ready to leave for MidSouthCon in Memphis, one of my most favorite shows. Returning to Memphis is always special to me because of my connections to the city. My undergraduate years were some of the best of my life, and there are parts of the city that are as much my home as anywhere else.
Earlier this week, I went to see my sons and spend a little time with them. Seeing their little smiles and hearing their laughter are two of the greatest joys in my life. Whenever we are together, it’s as if we haven’t been apart. They are both as comfortable with me as they are with their mom, and of all my accomplishments, that’s the one of which I’m most proud: I can take care of my children all on my own.
I’m often very critical of other guys who don’t take care of their kids, and during the drive back this time, I had a bit of an epiphany as to why they offend me so badly. Physically, each trip to see my sons takes a tremendous toll on me. The trips are also emotionally draining. I don’t ever have much money, so they are also a financial burden. But somehow, I find a way to get there and back and spend real quality time with my sons. If I can travel over a thousand miles round trip for my kids, anyone can find a way to spend time with theirs.
The epiphany I had was more about the spiritual side of these trips. Despite the physical toll, they always leave me feeling more fulfilled, and the reason why has little to do with me and nearly all to do with them. My sons will always have proof of my love for them because they will remember these times with me. They won’t ever have to wonder why they weren’t worthy of my attention. In the long run, they will be happier, more well-adjusted people because I’m sacrificing part of me in the short run, and that’s what parenting is all about. The guys who don’t make the sacrifice piss me off because their children are the ones who suffer. I’ve seen firsthand the wounds people carry when they don’t have a relationship with their fathers — alcoholism, anxiety, neurosis, and low self-esteem for starters. The guys who would sentence their own flesh and blood to that because it’s inconvenient or painful to find the time or energy or money to spend time with them are pathetic excuses for human beings and have my utter contempt.
If you’re one of these scum, grow a soul or a spine, whichever you’re missing, and be a part of your children’s lives.