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Paternal Fear

Yesterday the wife and I watched Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. I hate musicals, but it was pretty good once you got past all the blood (I'm not the blood-and-guts movie type).

There was a montage in the movie where Helena Bonham Carter's character was singing about the life she and Sweeney Todd (Depp) could have as a couple. In every imagining she sang about --- picnics, beach trips, marriage --- she was happy and Todd was brooding over enacting revenge over those who had wronged him. I had to laugh because I saw myself completely in the imagery. Before the economy became what it is now and especially so now, as a parent, I am gripped with a singular fear: not being able to give my kids the upbringing I was given.

I'm not talking ideology, mores or beliefs. I speaking to what I had as a child at both my kids' ages versus what they have from me. I didn't have every game console known to man (except xBox), an iPod and hot sneakers like my son, but I had quite a few Mattel games, a SuperWalkman and Hard Times by RUN-DMC, and a nice white pair of Ponys that I cleaned almost hourly. I also had a house to lounge around in, a backyard to cool out in (when I wasn't mowing the lawn or helping my father erect some wooden temple to himself a.k.a. the forever incomplete deck) and space to lounge, wander, wish, hope dream and brood.

My daughter's with my folks for July. Since she's been gone I've received reports every other day from my folks on her discoveries of worms, playing in her baby pool, running, skipping, playing as free as a bird as I did in the home in which I was raised. As a toddler, I vaguely remember walking with my mother on endless journeys through our neighborhood, running back and forth through the sprinklers in our yard, and chasing fireflies after sunset. Last week my folks bought her a tricycle and a part of my heart caved in. Not because my folks are doing these things as opposed to me, after all, that's what grandparents are for. But because once her month is over in Chi-Town and once my son's free-for-all in Virginia comes to its conclusion they both have to come back to our tiny, cramped apartment that has no yard, one television, and hardly enough space for 4 people to breathe comfortably.

These are the sacrifices my wife and I decided to make in order to survive comfortably as a New York family --- pay off wedding debt and build cash reserves --- until it came time to buy a home.

The only problem with this plan is that we aren't comfortable.

A couple weeks back, I finally accepted the fact that my job doesn't parcel out promotions or raises. I had been denial over this for at least a month prior until the boss lady told me herself.

All of this truly makes me wanna holler. Something has to give because I can't. Brooding constantly quickly becomes toxic, robbing the present of its color, making any hope for a future bleak at best.

Thankfully, fear is made of the same intangible stuff and can become the motivation for great change. It always has been for me. On a day like today when my wife states she doesn't want to spend another season in our current residence, my son tells his cousins he doesn't want to come home, and my daughter no longer wants to speak to mommy or daddy over the phone, were it not for the grace of God, I'd probably crawl inside myself and never come out. My fear of failing, limping along, eking out some humdrum rudimentary existence are revving at an all time high as of the past two weeks. What am I going to do?

Two words are going to get me through: "But God..."

So many bad stories (much better than mine) have ended well with these two words. Tune in for further details.

If you're a father and you have fears regarding your kids, how do you manage?

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