Absent, active, dead-beat, superhero, occasional, abusive, caring, invisible, cold, warm. All are adjectives I’ve read used to describe different types of fathers, sometimes the same father at different times. I am a father to an amazing little girl who has completely turned my life and that of her mother’s around. I’ve been a father to this girl from the moment we found out my wife was pregnant. I’ve been a father throughout my wife’s pregnancy and I was a father the moment the doctor passed our daughter into my hands for a brief moment before they took her to the neonatal ward where she would stay for nearly a month.
I’ve been a father through every sleepless moment of wonder and fear in our daughter’s life. I have been a father still when I’ve stood up to anybody who got in my way because my life is not my own, it’s my family’s and always putting them first is what it means to be a father to me. These are some of the lessons my father taught me and I will pass them on to our daughter. My wife comes from a similar upbringing and I am lucky to be a co-parent with somebody who agrees on what’s best when it comes to our family.
We were both raised by loving, present parents who are still alive today and play a big role in our lives. We married and had a child relatively late and I believe this has been a blessing all on it’s own. We both had full lives in our twenties and thirties, when we met we were ready to settle down so it wasn’t long before we decided to get married and before we knew it, we were having a baby. I think it’s because we don’t have the distraction of trying to enjoy our youth that we are so totally committed to our daughter. It is also for this reason that I feel awkward when people comment about my daughter and I when we are out with or without her mom.
My wife is told she is lucky to have an involved father for our daughter, lucky? I get congratulated for sharing household chores & looks of approval for knowing how to change a nappy or playing with her on the jungle gym, I don’t get it. If I don’t do these things, if I am not there for my family then who is? Is this not how raising a family is supposed be? It bothers me that we get treated like the exception, what is wrong with our society that being an active and present parent is now seen as out of the ordinary? My wife and I made similar choices early on, despite pressure from family and friends we separately made a conscious choice to live our lives the way we wanted and only have children with somebody we believed shared our ideals. I am grateful we found each other.
To me, Father’s Day is a chance to remember some of the lessons I learned from my father and other male role models growing up. Some have passed on and others I have lost contact with but all have contributed to the person, the father, I am today. My wife let’s me know I’m appreciated as a husband and father constantly and I do my best to reciprocate. Our daughter, in her own ways, let’s us know we are appreciated daily and we love her even more for that. So as you go about Father’s Day and every other day, think about what you want to be the norm in your home.