I just returned from a cold and brisk walk in the rain. And because I think mothers should get a break from time to time, I left Kyla at home while the kids and I travelled the back roads in search of interesting things. And we found them.
We found salamanders and snakes, one hummingbird hard at work, and yes, even some evidence of beaver activity. But I also found something I did not expect, a picture that my daughter took as she stood back for a second or two letting us all pass her by.
In the picture, a couple of my boys were marching forward, one of them pushing the stroller, waiting from time to time for the little ones to catch up. And there I was, not at the front but holding the hand of my little Sophia as we took things at her pace.
You have to understand that this is not how I see myself. Like many Catholic dads, I try to lead my family into and certainly through every kind of adversity. I tell myself (and I certainly still pray for this) that I need to go before those I love so that their walk might be easier or at the very least familiar.
Yet, here I am at the back of the pack chatting with my five year old to ensure that the path is not too long or winding for her little feet.
And you know what? Though I would not have posed for the picture this way, I am certainly glad that it was not up to me. For real civilizations are led by those who help the smallest among them to walk.
If that means moving to the back then so be it. If that means having quiet and „unimportant‟ conversations then they will happen. For while it is important that mom and dad lead the family into what is often a terrifying and dangerous world, it is just as important that our kids know where to find us when life gets that way.
“Where is dad?” I can already imagine my son Tobais saying. “Oh you know dad,” Gabriel might respond, “he‟s at the back; refusing to leave any of us behind.”