Lessons from my father and my son
What a powerful piece, thank you Latham. The line that struck me “Being a father meant taking a back seat to what I believed being a father was supposed to be. In that moment I had to learn that it wasn’t about me. “ I would change father to wife.. and say that I’m learning this very similar lesson. I hope you find ease and connection.
Incredible Latham. So raw, tender, and bittersweet, this journey you’re on. I imagine so many of us struggle with this tension at least one of our relationships. I spent the last two decades wondering what I did to drive my dad away, and if I could’ve done something, maybe be a different kind of daughter, to keep him on earth. But I’ve spent the last couple years learning how to accept that it’s not about me. I wish I could’ve asked him questions to better understand his pain. But instead I imagine conversations (and write fiction like Bonesick) to fill in the blanks. I hope writing this beautiful piece unlocks a few doors for you (as I’m sure it will for other readers like me)... as you synthesize being both a typical human with typical human expectations and the specific type of father the universe has asked you to be. Thank you for your vulnerability, and as always, sharing your stories with us here.
Tears in my eyes, brother. This is so right: relationships with our kids happen on their terms, not on ours. Love that conversation at the dinner table, where you didn't give up and finally flipped the magic switch. And the Lego invitation. Our kids let us know how to be part of their lives, and it really is up to us to accept those invitations rather than trying to push them toward filling the gaps in our own childhoods. A hard lesson to learn, but a necessary one. Thanks for your courage here, and for sharing wisdom that other need to hear.
So much in here my friend. We are dragged kicking and screaming into this world, and forced to discover at some point, much to our own dismay, that it’s not all about us. Thanks so much for sharing your story of growth and healing and generational love. 🙏
It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own heads—our own stories—and lose sight of the fact that we're really trying to ease our kids into becoming adults as best we can. Adults who will inevitably grapple with the same stuff we do, just in their own unique way. And yet all we can do is be there for them as a safety net when they need us.
Masterpiece. I cried halfway through. 👏✍️
I mean what else is there to say. I think this is why writing matters. So stories like these come to light. So that we see themselves in it, recognize our darkness, but also see the light. You are an inspiration my friend.
What a piece Latham! This line is one of those hooks like an old song that will live in my head forever: "my fears were actually my stories"
I'm sharing in those reflections as parenting is an unending meditation on how the parent has been parented. Those contemplations are where the healing and meaning begin. You captured that feeling in this piece powerfully.
And there's a beautiful function in the Pokemon games. Some of them can't evolved unless they are given in a trade. Though they can always come back, it is a reminder that our final forms are often only a release away.
Soulful work — and well timed... What relatively little experience I have with kids lately has been a lot f about learning how much they want things on their terms, or at least that it certainly not about me... I may have something to bring to the table, but—especially because these are someone else's kids—that's about all I can do: bring it, and offer it, and let it go from there. I hardly know you, but I'm so glad you're part of our group and I'm proud of the work you're doing, for you, and for your readers.
this is an astonishing bit of writing
Your deeply moving essay is profoundly honest and vulnerable. I can't imagine a more worthy way to serve as a man right now than being willing to "get real" in the ways you've demonstrated here. Also, I think all of our cultural tropes re family and what it is have led us astray from its reality. With respect to my own experience of family—my birth family, as well as the one I created—I'm coming to the conclusion that family is not a usual arrangement of relationships. It's the place where the literal work of facing the illusion of separation takes place. There is no other circumstance or configuration of people that could have motivated me to embrace the level of joy and pain required to build a soul than family. I agree that "it's not about me"—but it IS about the family, of which I am a part. So the "not about me" revelation isn't a diminishment of me, but an expanded vision of who and what "me" is that includes the whole family. So to take on a conscious relationship to family is no less than a spiritual quest that is not for the feint of heart. Family is in no way a casual affair. It's a declaration of war against all the habits of separation that we are culturally encouraged to perpetuate.
This was such a great piece Latham! I started reading it and became absorbed in your storytelling, so much so that I didn't stop to think until I finished the essay. I love the way you combined your fathers story, yours and your sons. It's cool to see you experimenting with a different format and knocking it out of the park.
Love this writing Latham and it was illuminating for me in my own relationship to father and with my father. My mother brought a few men around and that complicated me and my relationship to father. I’m grateful to the men that have gifted and guided me to a healing of that wound. I’m continuing to negotiate my own limited relationship to my own father, all the while occasionally grieving not being a father myself. Thank you for your essay and for sharing openly from your experiences.
What a powerful lesson
What an incredibly moving piece. Brings tears to my eyes reading it.