Adopted Sons

A few years ago, I wrote a piece on Adopted Dads, recounting the importance of having him in my life.  Well, I guess turn about is fair play.  He has recently started a blog and I asked if I could run part of it here:

Guest Blog by Mark Williams

Maurice Broaddus doesn’t need anyone to toot his horn for him; He does a perfectly good job of that for himself. Afterall, this is a guy who holds an annual convention named for himself. Mo-Con has been gathering horror authors together in Indianapolis for 5 years now. Maurice has been writing professionally for some time. His pontifications can be found on his blog, his reviews at Hollywood Jesus, and in columns for Nuvo among many other sources. He has had short stories, novellas and now novels published. I have had the privilege to watch his growth longer than most.

Maurice came into my life about 30 years ago. He was a studious 4th grader who took part in the Sunday School class I taught at the Eagle Creek Grace Brethren Church. The class was filled with a crew of enjoyable but rowdy boys. There was something about Maurice that drew me to him. He was polite, studious and eager to learn. He was new to the church and was just learning to fit in, initially quiet and a bit reserved. All of those qualities made me want to reach out to him, but it was more that. I felt a connection with him. God laid a burden on my heart to befriend this young man

Maurice has brought so much joy in my life. Before I had boys of my own, Maurice filled the place in my heart reserved for fatherhood. My wife and I would have Maurice over to our house sometimes just to play games in the backyard sometimes to spend the night watching movies. Over the years, we spent countless hours discussing a variety of topics finding mutual interests in comic books, horror stories, politics and most importantly the Bible. Maurice always amazed me with his thirst for knowledge. He was never satisfied with what he was being taught in school and he would go to great lengths to expand his knowledge. I remember when he was in junior high his complaining the school didn’t have a class in Latin available so he set out to try and teach himself Latin by checking out books in the Library. I also remember when he was in High School and he had to write a science paper and he elected to defend creation and argue against evolution, this done in public school. Maurice makes me proud. I watched with pride when he accepted his diploma at Northwest High School, married Sally, introduced me to his sons, took on leadership positions in his church and most recently gave me copies of his first published novel and the book of short stories he edited.
I like to think I have had some influence on Maurice’s life. I know he has had influence on mine. The most important part I played was introducing him to Jesus Christ. Maurice has remained faithful to God and has led others to the Lord himself and has counciled many in his various ministries.

I don’t get to see Maurice as much as I would like. He leads an extremely busy life and I too have limited time for social gathering. I read his blog, which is very well crafted and I heartily endorse for those who want well thought out discussions on the issues. He is certainly his own man, and where once before we agreed on most everything, Maurice now has formulated opinions I sometimes question. I have concerns about his judgment at times just like every father has concerns for a son who ventures in a direction where peril might lay. But my confidence in Maurice is not diminished. He has pursued his goals steadfastly and is now seeing the fruit of his efforts.

Maurice has become an accomplished writer. He has won awards for his short stories written a novella Devil’s Marionette and has co-authored the novella Orgy of Souls with Wrath James White and most recently signed a 3 book deal with Angry Robot a division of Harper Collins. The 3 books will comprise a trilogy telling the story of The Knights of Breton Court. Maurice has also edited, along with Jerry Gordon, an anthology Dark Faith for Apex Books.

He goes onto give his opinions on King Maker and Dark Faith.  But I’m not linking to him anymore if he’s going to keep posting old pics of me.  Sheesh.

Hanging with My Sons

So after watching How to Train Your Dragon, I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with my sons and how each of them have such different relationships with me. My oldest likes to engage me intellectually, a bit of a schemer, and do what I do. He asks questions, talks to me, challenges boundaries at every turn, writes, believes he’s more charming than he is, and watches television like it’s an interactive event. He’s his father’s son.

My youngest is a daredevil, physically and emotionally as he’s prone to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He loves to be held, constantly needs physical assurance that I’m there. So he hugs, enjoys snuggle time, lays on me, and holds my hand. He pretends to be shy, but really just enjoys keeping people at a distance and making them relate to him on his terms. It’s like raising my baby brother.

One thing it’s reminded me of is the need to be present for them. We often forget how much our relationships with our parents can teach us about our relationship with God, how it should be, what it ought to be, and what it isn’t. The longing of our heart is to be with our fathers (sometimes causing us to seek out adopted fathers or mentors or other role-models when one isn’t present).

Fathers can be absent in a variety of ways: emotionally distant, aloof; overly critical, abandoned us physically; or being abusive. Sadly, even these things can teach us (false) lessons about the idea of fathers: that they can’t be trusted, they are prone to abandon, they aren’t safe, they are prone to judge, they are prone to be painfully silent, they are prone to be abusive.

We teach when we aren’t intending and we communicate in all we say and do. What we model is more important than what we preach. To be known, find security, and have stability, that’s what I want my sons to know about fathers. Most importantly, that they are loved.

Fatherhood Love Language

Between Thanksgiving and my father’s birthday being this month, my thoughts always drift to what it means to be a father. In his book, Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman put forth the idea that people communicate in five different ways and that people have to learn how they and their significant others speak and hear their “love language”. This got me to thinking about different fatherhood love languages.

Like most parents, I worry about what kind of men they are going to be and how best to train them to be the kind of men they ought to be. When I think about my own father, I think about how easy it is for children to point to the faults of their parents. We’re human, a smorgasbord of failings, but we try the best we can. However, my father was at least there for us and he loved us as best he could. So I’m reminded by the simple power of presence.
(Yes, I could have posted my wedding picture where me, my father, and my brother were posed like the Temptations, you know, a photo that conveyed his dignity and quiet grace … or I could this “yes, it’s Christmas, but I’m gonna grab a smoke and I’m gonna put on the first hat i find cause it’s cold” picture.)

And while being there (even if by being I mean on the couch, half dressed (if we were lucky), usually watching Murder She Wrote or some other detective show) was an important love language, that wasn’t the way I truly remember him communicating his love for us. To me, it came with a simple act of sharing.

Think about everything that the real daddy does: pay the bills, buy the food, put a fucking roof over your head. Everything you could ever ask for. Make your world a better, safer place. And what does Daddy get for all his work? The big piece of chicken. That’s all Daddy gets…is the big piece of chicken … When l was a kid, my mama would lose her mind if one of us ate the big piece of chicken by accident. ”What the fuck! You ate the big piece of chicken? ‘Oh, Lord! No, no. ‘Now l got to take some chicken and sew it up and shit. Get me two wings and a pork chop. Daddy’ll never know the difference.” –Chris Rock (Bigger and Blacker)

My dad always gave up the big piece of chicken. I have a thing for chicken wings (probably because it was always one of my favorite dishes my dad made). For as far back as I can remember, if we were ever eating as a family and I finished my food and there was no food left (which happened a lot growing up) and I mentioned that I was still hungry, my father would give me (or whoever was still hungry and said something) the food off his plate. He always saved the “big piece of chicken” for last, too.

All of this came rushing back to me as the family was out to dinner at Pucchini’s celebrating a friend’s birthday. My boys ordered some food and when it arrived, they looked at it as if someone brought them a plate of fresh octopus. With extra tentacles. Suddenly my oldest turns to me and says “I’m hungry. What do you have?” I handed him my plate of fettucini alfredo, CHICKEN fettucine alfredo, and watched him merrily eat. And I remembered how my father taught me to (show a father’s) love.

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Fathering Fathers

I’ve always had my father in my life. Say what you will, since everyone has their faults, he has been a constant presence and 80% of parenting is simply being there. So it’s difficult to imagine how I’d feel if he’d walked out on our family or not been in the picture in the first place. I can’t imagine the profoundness of my sadness or how that might evolve into anger or how that anger might transform into outright rage or hate.

Too many of us don’t know how to be fathers because we’ve never had a real father or have never seen the importance of a real father due to the absence of one in our lives. I love my two boys and I plan on raising them to be the type of men they ought to be, and one of the conversations I have started to have with them (even though they are only in kindergarten and first grade) is that I’m not raising another generation. There will be no misunderstandings on this point: if they consider themselves grown enough to have sex, they will be grown enough for the responsibilities that come along with it.

They will be raising that child. I’m not the automatic babysitter and I’m definitely not going to be giving up my weekends so that they can continue to rip and run as if they don’t have a care in the world. I have done my time. And guess what? They aren’t going to dump all of the work of taking care of the child on the women they got pregnant. They will be a part of that child’s life if I have any say in the matter.

I have been blessed to not only have my biological father in my life, but also other men who have been models of what true fathers should be. I think I had underestimated how much he has shaped and formed my life. I also realized the great debt that I owe them for the man that I’ve become and how much I love him. We should all be so lucky to have such fathers.

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Will Someone Explain …


My fascination with all things Hoff?

My new INtake column is up, obviously on a topic that has been on my mind for a while now. Big shout out to my new brother-in-law, a great example of what it means “To be a man.”

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Holding My Son’s Hand

I imagine it will be tough to let go of my kids (my countdown clock aside). To get to that stage where I stop worrying, to stop thinking of them as my kid and let them be the adults they are one day supposed to be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fathers and sons.

Every day I pick my oldest son up from school (which I like better because I kept forgetting him at the bus stop when the bus used to drop him off). Every day we hold hands when we leave, as he waves good-bye to friends, as we cross the road getting to our car.

I tell him that I like holding his hand and that one day he’ll consider himself to be too big. One day he won’t let me hold his hand in public, he won’t let me stroke his hair when he’s resting, he won’t let me be seen with him in public because I’ll be embarrassing (to which he said “I know” and little too quickly). Actually, his younger brother already is done: at 4, he’s “too big” to hold my hand.

Yep, my oldest is only in kindergarten, but I’m going to miss holding his hand.

Like most parents, I worry about what kind of men they are going to be and how best to train them to be the kind of men they ought to be. When I think about my own father, I think about how easy it is for children to point to the faults of their parents. We’re human, a smorgasbord of failings, but we try the best we can. However, my father was at least there for us and he loved us as best he could. So I’m reminded by the simple power of presence. Of being there to listen and talk to my children and I worry a little less about possibly screwing them up, despite my worst antics, because being there is most of the battle. Holding their hands when I’m able and when they’ll let me.

So I’m going to miss holding my son’s hand. Probably as much as my dad misses holding mine.

Today’s his birthday. Happy birthday, dad.

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.