I was not island born, however, my husband was. Growing up on Maui is different from where I grew up. I have learned this through others, but most importantly through my husband, the father of my children.
I realize childhood issues exist everywhere and Maui is a very special place, which has it’s own uniqueness with a melting pot of cultures. There’s a lovely warmth (aloha spirit) that you can experience running into friends and Maui family at a store or at the beach, however, if you have grown up here most likely you also know someone that has lost a friend or family member to drug or alcohol abuse.
How does one learn to be a father if you lost that father to drug or alcohol abuse? How does one overcome such obstacles as being exposed to domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse and rage? From what I have witnessed it takes a lot of mental, emotional and spiritual work.
Fatherhood is a powerful healing tool. I have watched the father of my children question the realities of what he was brought up with from birth to breastfeeding, attachment parenting, food choices, schooling, and environmental awareness. For example, when I found out I was pregnant and we decided on a home birth he didn’t bat an eye even though we were both clueless. When we encountered the obstacles of being first time parents and the extreme learning curve of breastfeeding, on top of having a high need baby, he willingly put baby to chest in a sling and did his Daddy dance.
I have noticed that there are special places on Maui that are most healing. The hikes and the beaches give a renewal of childhood memories and create new ones for my husband. They open doorways to naturally connect and teach us to just be ourselves. I was always baffled by my husband’s “island feet” but now as our children walk, they follow their Daddy onto the hot sand and rocks to climb, balance and explore. The ocean and green forests are so cleansing and spiritually opening.
We have also sat down and made a mission statement as a family to remind ourselves of our core values. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to new experiences and surrendering to the unknown. When issues arise we tackle them as a family.
Doing things differently has its uncomfortable moments, however the long term benefits are everlasting. I have watched this miraculous change of a father being born and taking many first steps like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon and taking flight. It is a lot of work. However, at night when we snuggle up as a family and I see the glimmer in my husband’s eye and the pride he sees in his children, as well as himself. I see the emerging change and intense healing of fatherhood.
Image Credit: Christina Dehoff