Geoff came to parenting a little later than the average guy, both on the literal and the figurative side. Parenting has not always felt like a natural thing for him, and he still sometimes shakes his head that he is a father to three children!
Yet, despite his struggles and necessary adaptations, and despite making his share of mistakes through the years (like the rest of us!), Geoff loves his children.
Circumstances last week provided testimony to that love....
A week ago on Sunday evening, I was out for a few hours. When I arrived home shortly before Matthew's bedtime, Geoff was worn out. It had not been an easy few hours for him, culminating in a very difficult bedtime with Seth. As a result, Geoff had not been able to spend any one-on-one time with Matthew, which is something that Geoff or I try to do most evenings during the hour between Seth's and Matthew's bedtimes.
Matthew was bitterly disappointed...he'd had big plans for their hour together. In fact, I had hardly parked the car in the garage when Matthew came barrelling towards me, crying. He threw himself into my arms while I still sat in the driver's seat and sobbed. He was crushed that Geoff had had to spend that hour with Seth instead of with him. He was convinced that he wasn't loved, that Daddy preferred Seth, and on and on. I listened and let him get it all out. It was rather heart-breaking to see him so tortured, sensitive soul that he is.
The next morning, leaving before Matthew was awake, Geoff had to drive out of town for the day through a nasty mid-spring snow storm. Driving conditions were horrible...the worst he'd seen in years. When he and I talked later in the morning, we agreed that he would stay put overnight out of town rather than brave the roads home again.
Late in the day, just as the kids and I were finishing supper, I got a call from Geoff. He was feeling unsettled because of what I'd told him about Matthew's reaction to the evening before. In fact, he felt rather sick about the whole thing and hadn't been able to stop thinking about it. I suggested an extended phone conversation between the two of them, but that just wasn't cutting it with Geoff. He couldn't ease his mind about the need to be with Matthew.
He ended up driving home again on snow-covered highways...thankfully in somewhat better conditions than in the morning, but still not pleasant. He arrived in time to kiss Seth and Lizzie good night in their beds, but it was Matthew's face that was worth it all. I hadn't told him that Geoff was coming home, and his face positively lit up with joy when he saw Geoff walking in through the garage door. Immediately they embraced and Geoff told him that he just couldn't stay away given the events of the previous evening.
Shortly after Geoff got home, I headed upstairs to give Geoff and Matthew an hour of privacy. I heard giggles and tool-banging and murmured voices as they bent their heads together on some complicated thingee that they were building.
The real building, though, clearly, was the bond between father and son and the smile that both went to bed with that night. I write this down now so that someday Matthew understands that, no matter how big a transition parenthood was for his father, no matter how messy relationships can be at times, no matter how many mistakes we as parents make, his Daddy loved him and couldn't rest until things were right between them. What could be more precious than that.