Labor Day weekend is upon us. Summer’s last big hurrah is about to begin. This three day weekend has become a four day weekend for Shaun and his classmates, as today has been designated as a day of planning for his teacher and others in our school district.
He has so many plans for today. Nerf gun battles. Time playing with Tiny, his pet hamster. Maybe a trip to the pool before it gets too crowded by neighbors trying to get in one last swim for the season.
Then there are the carnivals. There are several in the area. The one he’s most interested in is down in Henryetta, where his grandparents live. He doesn’t know it yet, but we are going down there one day this weekend. It will be a fun surprise.
Last year that carnival helped send me to urgent care. I rode on a ride with Shaun called “The Zipper.” He was too small to go it alone, so I crammed my body into the little cage with him and away we went. A slight concussion and a few hundred dollars later (my old health insurance was not very good) and I was just fine.
There won’t be any rides on “The Zipper” for Kent this year. I’ve learned my lesson on that one. In fact, if it were totally up to me, we’d skip the carnival altogether. A disdain for carnivals must run in the family. I can remember my dad preferring dental work to going to a carnival. I totally get it now Dad!
I learned my lesson on that one too. Doing things I don’t enjoy, that is. You see, despite his loathing of all things carnival, my parents took John and me to the local Labor Day carnival each year when we were children. The fact is I don’t think my mom liked it any more than Dad did, but she was less vocal about it.
Those memories of the four of us together always stir my emotions. My childhood was truly incredible. So much of it was like something taken off of a Norman Rockwell painting. Of course my parents would probably argue that point, but these are my memories, and I’m choosing to remember them through a Rockwell filter, thank you very much!
Investing time in something that is less than enjoyable is just part of the territory in parenting. It’s a long term investment at that. Attempting to sacrifice a little pleasure today in order to make a child feel loved, or even noticed, is a requirement for parents. A requirement for good parents, that is.
Looking back, I can see many examples of times Mom and Dad sacrificed their own desires or interests for John and me. “Some day it will all have been worth it.” Words that may have never been spoken, but that reflect the faith parents have that their efforts will someday be rewarded.
So, this weekend I get to pay it forward a little bit. I get to take some of the love that Mom and Dad showed John and me so many Labor Day weekends ago, and share it with Shaun.
“Carnivals” are pretty common in recovery. The Narcotics Anonymous program is full of suggestions that require faith. Activities that represent an investment in the future. Things I’d really rather not do, but that are necessary if I want to experience recovery at it best.
It started with something as basic as getting clean. Despite the fact that I knew it was the right thing to do, I found it all too easy to give in to those urges to use when withdrawals would begin. Getting clean and staying clean was a leap of faith. I saw it worked for others, and hoped it could work for me too.
Then came step work. Seriously? You want me to share parts of my life with my sponsor that make me so uncomfortable? I don’t even admit those things to myself, much less to some other guy. In the beginning, step work was like riding “The Zipper” all over again.
Then there is the phone. It weighs so much. You know that, and yet you expect me to pick it up and make calls to my sponsor and other addicts? Come on, anything but that!
As I began applying faith to these and other areas of my life, I began to experience growth. Recovery began to take hold. Staying clean became less of a challenge. Sharing with my sponsor and others became more natural. The phone is even getting lighter.
Demonstrating faith by doing things I may not like to do yields results in every area of my life. It motivates me to push the limits of what I think I am capable of. Sure, there are times I fail. More often than not, however, I find that acting in faith brings positive change to my life, and the lives of those around me.
So, this weekend I will battle Shaun with Nerf guns. I’ll go swimming even if the pool is over-crowded. I’ll even brave the carnival in Henryetta. I’ll do all of these things, hoping that they create some great experiences today, and happy childhood memories for Shaun in the future.
Have a remarkable day!