16 June 2013

Being a Dad:A Retrospective

Today we celebrate Father's Day. It was a day, originated in the United States as a complement to Mother's Day, to celebrate fatherhood and male parenting. For a host of reasons, including the general downplay of the role of fathers in society and media in particular (ahem, Disney and your ceaseless pursuit of parental destruction), Father's Day is not as excessively promoted as other such days by Hallmark and its ilk. That is fine by me. I need no corporate overlord trying to sell me card that will say all that's unsaid in any given relationship. Nope, I've been surrounded by examples of great fatherhood throughout my life and I've tried to emulate them.

As I ponder being a father, I realize that for me, it all started here, with my late father:
My sister said it best about my Dad today in a post on BookFace, when she said that she'd never known a more honest, hard-working, supportive man in her life. She's right. He was all that and more. He may not have been the dad to rough house, but I knew he supported me, and each of his children, in all sorts of ways. I knew I mattered. I knew I was loved. That's a good thing to know. His is an example I strive to follow each and every day.

Me and Our Lady
My own adventure in fatherhood began more than 23 years ago with the arrival of Our Lady of Awesome. At left, you can see me holding her. I think I was afraid her head was going to fall off, hence the near chokehold I've got her in. Frankly, I should have been more concerned about the heinous choice of acid-washed jeans. Seriously. If you can ignore the terrifyingly poor choice in jeans, you can see that I look a little unsure. Given that this was my first-born and I was sans a clue, it makes sense. But what you don't see is my amazing wife, who has done more to make me the father that I am today than anyone. All I had to do was look over to her in those first few hours and days with our new baby, and I got the sense that maybe I could do this father thing.

Me and CAL
Then, feeling like I was getting this father thing down, we added to the Den. CAL brought an added measure of joy to our family. Now I had two children depending on me as their dad. Having two daughters was especially daunting, as I knew I needed to be a good example of manhood. I didn't want to be a bad example to them as they formulated their ideas of what a man should be for later in life. I wasn't always perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm still not. As a matter of fact, I think CAL is crying about my choice of eyeware in the picture at left. Frankly, I don't blame her. I'm so proud of my girls and the paths they are walking in this life. They amaze me each and every day.

Me and The Boy
The fatherhood fiesta came to an end with the arrival of The Boy. By that I simply mean that he was the last of the children that would inhabit the Den. Like his sisters before him, his arrival added to the joy in our home. It also increased our insurance premiums to this day and the reasons for that are posts for another day. Having a son also meant being a good example of manhood but for some different reasons than those for my daughters. I hope he will some day find someone as amazing as his mother and that he will look back on the example of his dad and think that the old man was all right. What I hope for even more for my son is that he will do it so much better than I did. Don't get me wrong...I don't think I've been a mess of a dad. I just want him to be even better.

Me and the Baby Awesome
And now, I've entered to an amazing phase of fatherhood - being a grandfather. It's funny when you look at this picture. I'm not so fearful as I was when I looked at this boy's mother. No, not afraid at all. What I am is in awe. My first-born is a parent. My wife, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, and I are grandparents. It is an incredible place to be. In spite of being a grandfather, my fathering is not over. There is still much to do with The Boy still left at home. My girls will always be my girls. I will always be there for all three of my children. Once I signed up for the dad thing, it was a forever assignment. I'm good with that.

President Obama said, "Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father." I'll admit there have been moments where I've wanted to cower in terror as a father, but I'm grateful for the example of amazing fathers all around me that made me take courage. I'm glad to be a father. Best. Title. Ever.

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