All My (disappearing) Children

We have all heard of absentee fathers.

I was just the opposite; perhaps I was even an overly “presentee” father.

I was usually the coach, quite often the classroom helper and nearly always the ride to and from school.

If the investment in my children was like investing in mutual funds I would be retired right now.  For a couple of decades-or more- I didn’t do much outside my children. Never golfed or went to the bar after work; perhaps the furthest I distanced myself from my kids was when they went to bed and I sat out on the driveway with wine glass in hand…deservedly earned, I must say. I was about as physically and emotionally present as a poppa could be, or, at least, as this poppa could be.

Please know I am not bragging nor looking for any father of the year trophies. The fact is from a young age I could not wait to be a dad. As a 10 year-old I would look at Rose and Tessa dadandSteve other dads and tell myself, “I wanna be one of those!” It is just who I am; no pat on the back necessary. We don’t reward a dog for barking.

Yet it was this morning that my oldest son moved (again) this time to southern Mexico some 3000 miles away, my oldest daughter left Monday to go back to her love and home in London, some 6000 miles away, while my youngest daughter is comparably in our backyard in Orange, CA a mere 60 miles away. My youngest son leaves to live in Las Vegas via UNLV in just a few months.

I became a father at 25 and now, at 50, 4 adult children later, I sit alone tonight in a house comfortably and custom-designed for at least 5 more inhabitants.

What the hell happened?

I guess unlike financial investments in which one personally gains profit for self –spent by self– investing in your children yields profit for others, namely the children themselves. Certainly the inner contentment of their well-being is fundamental to our survival as parents of adult children and is the greatest yield of all; yet ironically, I find myself alone tonight in 2200 square feet of treasured memories and an equal amount of square footage constituting lonely empty space.

I love it…and I hate it.  My tears are a cacophony of both tears of joy and tears of sadness.  My heart simultaneously feels absolute contentment, knowing of their solid paths and resolute character, yet absolute loneliness as the quietness allows me to hear the constant buzz of the refrigerator motor and the slight hum of all things electronic in a still house. I would rather hear human generated noise…even if it is the obnoxious accordion, the loud Skype conversations or the overly dramatic script of “The L Word” blasting from Netflix.

RosieNot tonight.

Please do not get me wrong…even if I could, I would not change a thing…not one damn thing. This is the design, this is the plan realized; it is the perfectly executed investment strategy gone terribly RIGHT.Jordan

Is it coincidence that 4 of the 5 people on the planet I like the most happen to be my own offspring? It feels like I did not raise 4 children, rather I cloned 4 friends.  This all would be so much easier if I did not like them or appreciate who they are (it happens!) –au contraire, these 4 are unique, genuine, wildly different, strong-minded adults scratching at the door of self-actualization.

So file this blog as a glass of reflection, with dashes of both whiny and sad herbs, mixed in with a small dose of self-pity, containing a large heaping  of perspective then permeated with cubes of absolute joy and contentment. Quite a blog cocktail I must say…like drinking in both sweet and sour and bland and salty all in the same swallow.

And now as I begin the end of the third, start of the fourth quarter of life, perhaps investing in those mutual funds is not such a bad idea…I mean I have the time now.

Unless…soon you will be calling me grandpa? Get busy my children…I earned it. I wanna be the presentee granddad .




  1. Ahhhh…I didn’t mean to make you cry. You are so much like your motha! I love you too..SOOOOOO much.

  2. Ah, children. It is they who will protect you from your enemies when you are old. or if you are literary will kill you. But on a serious note, raising good kids is the only thing thing that matters in the long haul of history.

  3. My children are 10 yo,1yo,and 7 months. Many of my days and nights are spent wondering what they will be like when they grow up and if I will miss the daily chaos! I think you have definitely answered that for me…In the end their happiness is our reward. Thanks for sharing.

    • You are welcome and thank YOU for responding. I recall being in your situation with small children and I can say those were some of the best days of my life yet, perhaps ironically, I would not go back to those for all the money in the world. If you are going to do parenting well your kids have to be your everything…and it is nice to rediscover who you are after a couple decades. It is a good thing life is plenty long enough to lose self and then get it back again. Cherish these days Denisse, they are a blessing.

  4. This totally made me cry!
    Since I was young and until this day, not one day of my life have I not been supported, though some loved ones are far away and others right next to my room. I, as a child, and becoming a young adult, cherish all the great memories from my uncles, my parents, and grandparents. I remember my worst prank was color coding my mother’s closet and running around to not get punished for doing something silly. I was brought up to a loving family filled with joy, love, and respect. They never cut my wings, always questioned me, always supported creativity. They, my family, are the foundation to all the great things I have been able to achieve until this day. I too, as an adult, would not change a thing. I am glad I have come to a point of valuing everyone and everything around me, struggles and successes, but most importantly, embracing those around me as I do with myself.
    Such a great professor and friend. <3

    • I genuinely thank you for adding to this conversation. It is obvious your family rocked ASS! Don’t forget me on your rise to the top mi amiga 🙂

  5. Oh wow, Jim. I just stumbled on this tonight. This is amazing. Those kids are so lucky to have you.

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