Remember when children were not just consumers? Remember when they were not a demographic to be marketed to? How about a harder one. Remember when we had goals for them other than to please their institution of 'higher learning'? Now how bout a crusher. Remember when kids were a tangible benefit to their family and had use other than occupying our time? Remember when they worked with us instead of us working for them? Their designer shoes, Montessori Schools, and thousand dollar impressive 3rd birthday party pulled of by a party planner? Remember when we would have been laughed at by grandparents when we said "their job is to do good in school".
Sorry if that was a little on the tough medicine side but farming has brought to life an deeper understanding of my relationship with my kids. Just as in all of life I recognize that there is not one size fits all approach and I don't mean to tell you what to do in your home. I certainly don't mean to offend the fine readers of this blog. The Barry Farm was born out a disillusion as to how we were headed as a family, and a willingness to be all in as part of the fix. When we see lapses in our life there are no real partial solutions. Things that need fixed often need to be completely broken so no patch will do but only a renaissance will suffice. The relationship I had with my children was one of those areas in my control that need a renaissance. Before my awakening when we changed course my kids were to be obedient to their mother, quiet at bedtime, finish their dinner and work hard at school. The contract I had made with them was to provide for their comfort, sustenance, entertainment and to enforce the rules when things go too far outside the contracted boundaries. I applauded myself for working overtime to accomplish these things and skipped right over the family vote because I knew what was best, and I wanted to surprise them with a Wii for Christmas. As the truth of a life threatening and life altering peanut allergy set in for our youngest all these thought came rushing to the front of my brain. Reminding me that our experiences with our children matter and that they are not promised to me. Today could be my last day as Seamus's dad and as much as my heart swells to even type that we both know that it is true.
Maybe it is the obstinate Irish in me, or the stoic Yankee, or maybe even the oldest motivator in the world: fear but I demanded change. Not the external forces make me move kind of change, I wanted a change in my own heart. I wanted to see Seamus and Layla the way I imagine God sees them; with real value and wisdom with lessons to teach of their own. I wanted to see them as an essential piece to our family's puzzle, as contributors with value, opinions to take seriously and hearts worth investing in. I prayed for the guts to unplug from my contract and to pursue them with all my worth. I wanted to courage to stay steadfast when my peers mock me for acting differently. I wanted Lay and Seamus to see us work and to connect the dots that family work was good for us and our community. My sons has split wood and my daughter weeded gardens. They have been present at lambing time, bottle fed a brand new ram lamb and seen their mother pull a stuck lamb. They have seen animal die, removed feathers and then to have turkeys re appear on our thanksgiving table. They have gotten up before dawn and seen the full moon in the same day. They have led other children on farm tours and been on the 5 o'clock news. My family is a different family because of the opportunity to paint a new course and the farm has been our canvas.
If you needed someone to go first in your sphere of influence I'd be glad to be that man for you. Let me assure you that this does not mean that that Renee and I have it figured out nor do we have parenting perfected. Our change is perspective and you are capable of doing that too. Come visit the farm, bring your kids and we can chat about what is most important in this world.