Don’t Let Yourself Become Your Children’s Shadow Without Being Their Light
First of all a massive thank you to those of you that sponsored me to take up the indoor rowing challenge and row for a Kent based charity (Dandyliontime)that helps disadvantaged children. Without you ‘Friday Lighters’ sponsoring me I wouldn’t have done it! My legs are still aching today, 5 days later and after some 13 miles of full-out rowing almost non-stop.
Do you know, I have not done anything competitive (not a sausage) in sport for 25 years. Then my wife spotted a poster while we were driving past our local Sainsbury’s supermarket and that was it. Charity plus sport; she knew it was too much for me to refuse. ‘Why don’t you do that Angus?’ She announced while pointing to the lime green posters through the car window. I stopped sport when we started having kids; my wife stopped playing the piano; I liked her playing music, she liked me being part of sports.
She knew it would be a good blast as it had been a stressful month for us both trying to spend a mortgage that took years to get and is about to be withdrawn on 31st October! No pressure then! We ran out of good champagne from my father in-law too so total disaster!
So my 13 year-old son – Leon and I entered the charity row last weekend to raise money for this charity programme. Then I discovered that the organisers of the event had ‘leader boards’ where they put the name of the winners on the wall. Well, seeing an opportunity like that, I decided that as my children where with me, I had better try my very hardest. Parents can’t let their kids down can they?
I am guilty of something you know. Have you ever been to school sports day and were asked to join the parents race? Well I have a confession and as many of the teachers and parents of my kid’s previous school read Friday Light, this will make them laugh! I always opted out of the father’s race at school sports days; even when both kids and teachers were screaming quite hysterically at me to enter. I honestly had no logical excuse to say no. So every year I said no and joined the grandparents at the side of the track while watching my kids deflate and drop their heads to the ground every time when I refused their call. I destroyed their wish to see my verve for life that I used to have so much of.
I have felt guilty about it ever since! The kids’ faces – the disappointment of my children snaking its way across their lips while they endured the excitement of the other kids whose parents were racing. I said no. Why? It could have been the height of their entire schooling days, imagine watching dad win (or loose- more likely) an event talked about at weddings, funerals, drunken dinners, till my time to leave Earth!
Anyway on this occasion I decided after chickening out of so many queues to perform it was finally time to see how far I could push this. So off we went; my kids with me, it was time for dad to race and raise money, at last!!!
My heart was racing like a machine gun and it was just a flipping charity row for heavens sake! But the presence of kids there to watch their dad do something they have never seen before left my fingers shaking over the steering wheel and mouth as dry as a packet of Kleenex.
I was like, erm seriously fired up, I was going to make them smile; they will never ever be disappointed with me again! Sod the bad knee that needs operating on. It was time to set the records straight; it was time to give to charity and be me. All that talk of how good I was at school at sport and so bad at exams. The time had come after 25 years!
The combination of a lightening storm on the night of the race, a week of stress at home; what with battling with kids homework till the early hours, cleaning up puppy poo, lack of sleep, looking for houses (you read last weeks Friday Light, OK!). Well it was time to let it all out. But I was like, really seriously ready, even though I felt like death. The image of my kids looking down at sports day, the images of the children that the charity supports that don’t even go to school, jeeez – who needs drugs?
So we set off to row a double 50 minute event with my son and I. I also entered a single event on my own.
I think myself to be 50 years old. I know, I am! But I had begun to accept that we stop doing things, as we become older. We sit down more, we accept more, we are more tolerant, above all we are happy to share, which is great but curiously we develop a happy-to-loose and walk away attitude too. We let our children score the goals, we start to live our lives through them. They play the pianos, they do things, not us – it’s all about kids. We become their shadows without being their light. But our children so much need to see us live ours. “What were you like dad at school dad?” Remember?
It’ never too late to do anything – be out of character – be yourself and let yourself free! I was on that rower steaming at the ears and ready.
I rowed my heart out and loved it! Leon and I came an amazing second place in the team event with just the two of us against teams of 7 people twice my son’s age and half mine. I seemed curiously to win the other event too.
I went home, as a proud dad, at last, I was actually happy with myself instead of looking to make everyone else happy and find happiness from that. It’s true, it’s really true – you must remember, you can’t love without loving yourself. It seemed so odd saying two words (we won) to my wife when she asked us how we got on. I really was smiling. But I actually won my life back for a brief moment. Thank you Sophie for helping me remember who I am! I am proud to be me.
So next time your partner, kids, anyone else for that matter says to you ‘hey, why don’t you do that?’ Think about it. Why not? They want you to be you, they see what you don’t. My children, teachers, they all screamed at me for years and years and only on a whim did I finally get off my arse and do something worthwhile. My God I am so sorry I didn’t do more charity work before; please forgive me. Thank God I am now.
Live on the spur, jump on the horse and ride for your dreams; live your life to the last once and breath that Mother Earth gives you; use every minute to express yourself.
Above all sing the music that lies written so beautifully in the centre of your heart before you die.
PS Just to prove all this – Here’s a video mid row after 25 minutes – yes still (just) smiling!