In our modern lexicon the word ‘radical’ has become synonymous with fanaticism, rigidity, and bigotry. For someone’s views to be defined as radical implies one who is plebeian, a fundamentalist, and uneducated. Someone radical is usually seen as lesser than compared to the rest of erudite society. What is your first impression when you hear the word ‘radical’? I picture planes flying into skyscrapers and cave dwelling militants prophesying the destruction of the western world.
And while this description isn’t without merit, due in large part to mainstream media, the Taliban, and Westboro Baptist Church, the word ‘radical’ has a nuanced yet far more worthwhile meaning. In particular this more hopeful definition is,
“relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.” – Dictionary.com
Later this week will make four years since the Queen walked into my life and fundamentally changed it forever. The prior – 2008 – was and will ever remain what I call my ‘emotional winter’. Save those calamities traditionally reserved for Kennedy’s, that year was thoroughly the worst of my life to that point. It seemed no corner of my existence was left untouched by trials and tribulations. My career had taken a U-turn and my financials more closely resembled a scene from the movie Money Pit.
On top of it all, my personal life had not only been turned upside down, it was ran over three times and left for dead. Even with heaping amounts of therapy, by the holidays I was positively convinced I would remain perpetually single rushing from one dalliance to the next ultimately cascading into a puddle of misery and woe symbolized by the sixty year old at the corner bar drinking well gin and tonics humiliating himself hoping some woman will get drunk enough and be just pathetic enough to go home to his basement apartment.
I was not what most would have considered a ‘catch’; my stock price had been in a steep decline and was trading at a 52-week low. I was divorced with two children under the age of six, suffering monumental damage from my own fiscal cliff, and was still licking deep and painful wounds of the emotional sort. What I did have going for me however was a boyish face; so much so that the Queen initially wanted nothing to do with me for fear I was too young.
Our first date was the morning after we met at a church we both happened to attend but whose ‘mega’ status meant neither of us knew it. The particular message was the second in a series on changing your financial future. Surprisingly among all my notes from that Sunday morning on Chronicles 1 and budgets there’s no mention of the beautiful woman I just met sitting next to me who would ultimately be my motivation to change everything else.
I’m convinced a father can never be what his children really need without the love and support of an incredible woman. This isn’t to say that he can’t be a good dad; but parenting, despite what others might say, is best done within the teamwork of a man and woman. The same differences separating mothers from fathers must also be leveraged to help each grow into better parents and individuals. These distinctions can act as parenting checks and balances ensuring neither allows their individual hardwiring to entangle the children. While we endeavor to instill in them our very best qualities minus the accountability of another we will likely force upon them our very worst.
Without the influence and support of the Queen I would in all likelihood parent from a place of authority instead of fathering authoritatively (more on that contrast in a future post). I would unknowingly let my natural ‘D’ personality dominate my children instead of acting as their advocate and biggest fan. My tendency towards control would spill over and make little things appear far bigger than they are or should be. And most importantly, like men are want to do, I would allow the countless shiny objects of life, those society champions as manly such as career, success, and money, to take my attention away from the very things that truly define manhood – namely being a loving partner and father.
The Queen’s affect on my life has been nothing short of radical and no greater witness of this is found than when a family, especially a mother, acknowledges the return of the son she once knew. However I feel my children benefit the most from her impact. I often stammer under the weight of responsibility that parenting children from broken homes can bring. It’s easy to buckle under the load of guilt that’s inevitable for single and divorced parents. I’m all too acquainted with the statistics that predict my children are more apt to fail in school, in society, and in general. Their gypsy existence is my constant reminder of divorce’s ripple effect. But while I recognize the challenges they face, I reject that my children must also be just another data point. I dismiss the notion that broken homes, by definition, must carry such consequences. I’ve been a single dad long enough to now know it doesn’t have to be that way and all I needed to understand that was the radical love of one incredible woman.
Happy Anniversary, my Queen! Thank you for loving me radically.
To read my previous anniversary posts.