It was mid-September 2005. The weather was so warm I thought summer would never end. The mountain trees, however, told a different story. The lush green forest was slowly turning orange and red, reminding us change was coming and that the face of the mountain would soon lose its blush, ushering winter into the valley. 

It was a stressful time in my life. I had just learned my son had a terminal disease and at the same time I was struggling to make a new business venture work. There were client demands to meet, payroll, taxes and a million-and-one things that weighed heavy on my mind. Though Mitch was my 3rd child, in many ways I felt like a child myself. An imposter, of sorts. Although I could do a professional thing or two, I felt a bit like a child clothed in a man’s body, still trying to figure out who I was and discovering my place in the world. I was growing up. But growing can be painful and unsetteling.

I was no knight in shining armor. Instead, I was a flawed man in tattered cloth … but my wife loved me anyway. I was unsure of myself and full of worry – yet my clients believed in me. I was a boy trying to become a father, yet I stumbled to be the dad my children deserved. My kids didn’t notice my imperfections like I did, they just loved me for being me. It seemed that the world was kinder to me than I deserved – and for that I was grateful.

So, after a long day at the office, I set out to meet Natalie and the kids at a nearby park. When Mitch saw me, he ran as fast as his tiny legs could take him and jumped into my arms. I couldn’t get enough of this little boy and my other children. 

I asked tiny Mitch how his day went. He smiled in his shy way and said, “It wuz good.” He paused a moment and then corrected himself, “No, it was gwate.” I chuckled and kissed his little neck then said, “I love you, Mitch.” He then went on to tell me what he learned from Miss Nancy, his pre-school teacher. “She nice to me,” he said with a glimmer of confidence in his eyes. I could tell Mitch felt safe and cared for – and that did my troubled heart good. Tiny Mitch, with his sweet expressions, calmed my weary soul. Though winter and other cold realities were heading our way, I was grateful for the warmth I felt that day. 

Having children was a strange thing for me - for they taught me to love deeply and unconditionally. To my surprise, I needed them as much as they needed me. Such is the wonder of family.

I am grateful for my kids, for they remind me of the person I want to be.