You make me angry:
Your choices and selfishness
Robbed him of a life.
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For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.
My love for you is bottomless without end infinite it is sunbeams and moonbeams and cluttered thoughts laughter and pain you are my sun and my moon and all the cliches in between and while your light shines I will forever bask in it yeah I’ve screwed up your life at times that’s what parenting is all about but hopefully I’m not doing it as much you can be a pain in the ass but I know you’re just working things out love is forgiveness good with the bad compromise and all that always rising above like sunbeams and moonbeams and cliches but never ending and always beginning my son my sun you are my world keep the light on and shine bright
For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.
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I remember my father,
as he is
anchored to that
the absence of smoke
not so heavy in the air.
Less the cough
Finger in ear,
a book his constant
the walls echo
odd angry shots
and amnesiac spite.
I love my father,
even if he is
half the man
The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
My son, God love him, turned twenty this year. It’s hard not to think of him as a teenager, though, as he still lacks that special something that signifies him as an adult. No, not body hair; he’s got more than enough of that–inherited from his grandfather, who’s known as the ‘silverback’ (yeah, you guessed it. After the gorilla).
It’s common sense I’m talking about. That undefinable understanding about how to get by in life, how stuff works; that sort of thing. No, not how the internal combustion engine works, because even I don’t understand that. It’s about the basics:
Just a few examples. From this morning.
And while my son may resent being treated like a kid, he often brings it on himself, because he still thinks like one: no responsibility, no cares, no job, no drivers license. Yep, his mother (my first ex-wife) and I still drive him everywhere.
It’s our fault of course. We’ve mollycoddled him (as many parents do when they have an only child), spoiled him (as all parents do with their kids) and not let him learn from his mistakes.
I believe that he will develop some common sense, in time. Like when he’s forty. Maybe.
Oh, well. I still love him to death.
But he’s still not having that cash.
Every once in a while, I find myself in a mental space I’d rather not be in. And it doesn’t seem to take much to get me there.
It’s a sure sign of poor mental health when a clothes washing incident can bring you to the brink of despair. It’s not the incident itself, however, but the stuff that’s been weighing on your mind, piling up like dirty laundry in the corner, a tower of linen just waiting for a slight tap to bring it all down (I would have said crashing, but that doesn’t seem appropriate for a big metaphorical pile of clothes).
All the crap you’ve been carrying, all the anger and bitterness you thought you’d let go of, all the hopes and dreams you’ve quashed over time—they all decide now is the time to come out and play. And how they play. Not like your best childhood friends in the playground, but foul, demonic entities ready to pluck and rend and torture your soul until there’s nothing left to save.
Of course, it’s all well and good to say, “buck up, move on, get over it”, but people all too rarely do, despite all their affirmations and aspirations. And so they wait, all those little bugs, hiding in your mental cupboards, tucked away in your drawers, just waiting for the day when they will be set free and their fun can begin.
It’s at times like these I have to remember the importance of my anti-suicide vow: my commitment to stay alive for my son. I do NOT wish to be a poster boy/role model for taking the easy way out.
No, life is about facing s@“# and getting on with it. And, yes, every once in a while, having a meltdown and wanting out of it.
But life goes on. It must. Because while we’re alive, it’s all we have.
PS I’m so glad I can blog cathartically. I don’t know what I’d do without it, because I certainly can’t wait until my next therapist appointment.
I often ideate about endless sleep,
when the lights are dim, and my thoughts are deep.
I sought it once, but I screwed it up
(if I wait forty years, I’ll get what I want).
My new long term goal: stay awake for my son,
keep him wide-eyed at the wheel, to avoid a collision.
To overcome the challenges that his life does present,
to learn some much needed life experience.
Then I can have my endless, dreamless, painless sleep
from which I can forget about all of this.
My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.
See the world.
But not through your own eyes.
Try seeing and yet not seeing,
failing to understand
what they truly perceive.
Messed up signals,
like a traffic jam waiting to happen.
Open your mouth,
like his mouth,
and watch the words tumble out:
tactless and indiscreet;
a crossword of errors on a big broadsheet.
not by yourself,
but like him:
like the world has eaten you up
and spat you out.
Deserted, when you truly needed love instead of doubt.
This is how he feels.
So extend a hand.
Feel with him.
Don’t let him misunderstand.
Don’t let him be alone.
Time to prove your worth, and atone.
There are rabbits in my back yard
Each day they rise to greet the light
With eager noses, seek daily bread
While the alpha, tall and bright
Watches oh, so protectively
Together, the family eats again
I had a family once like them
It now feels like so long ago
I loved them so, my family lost
The rabbits are reminders then
With faith and hope
I’ll survive the cost
You regale me with tales
Until the night comes down
And I’m in need of a drink
But you’re still not done
Lucky I love you, son
Sometimes he’s far away, head in the clouds again
In a world that’s hard to define, harder to confirm
Even with all his quirks, arguments, trials, laughter and pain
Together we are unflappable, incorrigible, unbreakable, invincible
He is my son, my amazing and unbelievable one
My sunrise, my sunset, my reason for being
My love is without measure and without end
And every moment shared is like being born again
My teenage son, Padawan-Nerd-in-Training, stayed over on the weekend (as he does every weekend, so nothing new there).
Padawan is a YouTube fan and has a number of channels he subscribes to. I, being an antiquated, internet hating has-been, try to avoid anything internet related other than this blog. Padawan showed me a few videos that were really interesting, about why crap videos and news stories attract so much internet attention.
This video talks about the theory behind clickbait, fake news headlines and human behaviour:
For more about clickbait, the YouTube algorithm and why we as an audience click particular types of stories, check this video out:
After watching all that, you’re either astounded and keen to learn more, head-tripping, or bored out of your mind (or all of the above).
Please feel free to comment below if you would like to talk about this in a high-falutin’, quasi-sophisticated, philosophically-questionable discussion.
Every time I drop my teenage son off at his mother’s after staying with me for the weekend, he waves me off with a look of intense poignancy that tears me apart. He has stayed over almost every weekend since he was six months old. I am his father and his friend. And I’m also guilt-stricken because I can’t be there for him all the time, the way I think I should be.
I’m sure that many fathers feel some kind of “survivor’s guilt”, the same way I do. I’m sure that they look back at their time with their kids and blame themselves if something didn’t work out the way they expected, or if their kid went off the rails. Perhaps they fall in to the tried-and-true blame game: “oh, it’s obviously his mother’s fault, because I only had him on weekends”.
But that’s an easy out. Responsibility is part of the job of being a father. We help to raise, to develop, to forge our children and what they believe, how they act, and ultimately the kind of adult they become.
Every father loves their children. Every father feels responsible for them, no matter how small a part they may play in their upbringing. Often we blame ourselves, and sometimes we’re right to do so, sometimes we’re not.
For a long time I was the stable influence in my son’s life. I had the stable relationship, the stable home environment, the stable job. His mother flitted here and there, never in one place for too long, moving from one relationship to the next and moving my son from school to school at her convenience. Now, through some bitterly ironic twist of the knife, I’m the unstable one, without a home, without a job, without money, without the confidence and influence I previously projected. My son’s mother now has the stable home, the stable relationship, the steady income. She’s now the picture of solidity and commitment that I used to be.
Do I resent it? A little. But I’m also happy that she’s finally found someone she loves, has finally settled down. I’m glad that my son has another father figure, one who is currently far more responsible and upstanding than me.
At one point, I attempted to take my life. Afterwards, I spoke to a psychologist who advised me that I would have been giving my son a life sentence if I had succeeded. She was right, of course. All too often we don’t think about the impact these things have on those around us. We are overtaken by our sadness, pain and selfishness, and don’t care about the consequences. I still feel guilty about the potential impact a successful attempt may have had on my son.
My son remains the most important person in my life. Sometimes I’m not as attentive as I should be. Sometimes I miss his phone calls because I’m doing something else. Sometimes I’m too critical of him. Sometimes I worry about my own problems more than I worry about him. Sometimes I think that I’m the worst father that ever lived because I’m not there for him when I should be.
But my son loves me. He misses me when I’m not around. He knows that I love him and that I will always be there for him. And when he waves goodbye to me after I drop him off, he knows we’ll be back together next weekend, no matter what.
My late-teens son, Padawan Nerd-in-Training, rarely listens when I offer advice. I can see his eyes glazing and his brain slowly switching off the brilliant lecture I have so carefully devised. He’s thinking about the latest Metal Gear Solid or what’s to eat in the fridge.
It’s not that he’s a bad kid – he doesn’t run wild at night, he doesn’t drink or do drugs. In fact it’s pretty hard to drag him away from his games console of choice to get him to go out and breathe fresh air. But he’s at the point now where I can’t really admonish him if he’s done something wrong, or to do chores. He’s a man now, so I have to reason with him, provide evidence to support my argument, plead and beg and bribe, if I have to. Gone are the days when my word was law and he jumped to it.
I sometimes worry that I didn’t bring him up the right way. I think every parent does. There’s no point blaming his mother for not providing him with a regular routine when he was young, or for moving him through five different schools because it was convenient for her to do that. Although I only had Padawan every weekend, I was still a big part of his life and thus an influence.
If you’re anything like me as a parent you agonise over everything you do and say, worrying that the latest advice or scolding you give is going to traumatise and have them in therapy in their later years. I must admit, it is very convenient for me to blame my parents every time I cry when I see a soppy movie.
But although we like to think we are the be-all and end-all, that’s not the case. The simple fact is, although we are major influences on our children, as soon as they get to school (or day care) they are exposed to friends, peers, teachers, all sorts of role models whom they learn from. Over time, they have a gamut of influences, many of which we have no control over. That’s not to say we still don’t worry about our own input, but there are many other factors at play.
And don’t get me started on the influence of the internet. Some days I’d like to blow up all the servers in the world and return us to a technological dark age, to stop the crap that kids and teenagers can get access to. Other days, it is the most valuable research and communication tool ever created (I couldn’t be a blogger without it). We take the good with the bad.
There is no perfect way to raise kids. We try to do our best. Sometimes we f*ck it up (I do, often). There are things we wish we had never done, things we should have done better, guilt that will follow us until the end of our days (unless you’re some kind of sociopathic parent who really doesn’t care at all).
So, I guess I should stop worrying. Padawan still comes to me for advice (he just doesn’t like it when I offer it). He chooses what he uses and what he doesn’t. That’s how free will works.
If only he’d just do it my way…
(Yes, I use English spelling. Get over it.)