I’ve written before how my mother wanted me to be a priest. She was all gung-ho about the idea, and when I would counter that I wanted to be an actor, she would always mention how priests had to be great speakers and that was a way I could exercise that gift. I’m pretty sure that partly my mother was telling me that I loved to talk a lot and figured that the best way for me to stop talking so much at home was to place me somewhere people had to listen to me.
There have been more than a few times that I’ve considered in my life to be a priest. That’s no secret either. There was one time, not so long ago, that I wondered if the path of mylife was God’s way of telling me that I was refusing my natural calling. It seemed like an awfully passive agressive way to go about things, but from what I understand He likes to do that sometimes.
Anyhow, I never became a priest, obviously. If you’d have put the question to me as to why, I’d have had trouble answering. Also, I was busy debauching myself as a means to deal with depression and emotional problems so whatever voices may have been trying to talk to me were probably drowned out by loud rantings on a New Year’s Eve or an inability to comprehend what anyone in the room was saying, corporeal or not.
Funny memory trigger on that one is being at Severin’s house for New Year’s and making the obligatory call home to let my parents know I was safe and to continue the lying-without-saying-a-lie that I was being a good boy. If I was coherent, it was easy for them to believe no craziness had been happening. Actual exchange with my mother on the phone, shortly after midnight one New Year’s Eve a decade or so ago:
“John? Are you there?”
“We love you, Moo Bear.” [Go ahead and laugh. She called me that to the day she died.]
“Merry Christmas, Mom.”
“New Year, John.”
“Happy New Year.”
“Oh. Right. I’m just tired.”
“Good night, Moo.” [Another shortened version of ‘Moose’ that was in regular rotation.]
At this point I hung up the phone and Mike proceeded to break me down, quite justifiably since I’d botched such an easy conversation. Ah well, all in good fun.
And if at some point in the future my kids are reading this, I was just tired.
Anyhow, I meandered through many relationships and strange times and the question of being Father John hung in the back of my mind like a rotting pinata. Was it time to hit and see what happened?
Then I met Stacey, good sense went out the window, and I got married. That pretty much invalidated any priesthood thoughts.
A miracle then happened.
I was called to be a father after all. And I get reminded of that on a constant basis. This is the one thing that I’ve ever considered myself good at doing. I know that’s prideful, and I assiduously try to be modest about it. After all, the gift and the good fortune is all mine and heaven knows I don’t deserve to be father to girls so darned perfect. And that’s not an exaggeration. These girls are the epitome of awesome. Every morning, even the ‘bad’ ones, are a gift.
I’m like Locke on the island. I woke up one morning and the world was different for me. I found my reason for being. I am Father John. For short, I’m called Daddy. (Maddy says Daddy or Silly Boy. Mia pronounces it Dah-DeEE.)
But every day I get to dispense direct love, guidance and knowledge to two innocent souls who trust completely that what I am saying is the right thing. I take this job more seriously than any other and, though I know I will let them down at some point since I’m only human and therefore bound to fail in some way, will never give these girls anything less than as close to perfect as I can manage.
I’ve made some sacrifices to be with them, there’s no doubt about that. I made some hard choices and their arrival marked the end of some of my more grandiose dreams (or at least an altered perspective on which ones I actually cared about achieving) and the beginning of theirs. But I offer this sacrifice gladly, knowing that God has put me where I need to be. I was meant to be the father to these girls. I know now that anything else would never have been as fulfilling.
Sorry to go all mushy. That just happens sometimes. Part of the job.