Special Guest Blog: Becoming a Father
Special Guest Blogger: Jack B.
About Jack B.:
The Jack B. is a 40 something year old man who hasn’t quite reached middle age. Married with two children he blogs about about family, technology and more.
Becoming a Father
During the summer break between my freshman and sophomore years of college I met a girl and fell madly in love with her. I was 19 and just crazy about her. One day she came to me and told me that she was late. I didn’t have to ask what she meant by that, it was all too clear.
Being of sound mind and body I told her that if she was already pregnant there was no reason not to have sex and was promptly rebuffed. That really was more of a cry for help. I was scared silly. I always wanted to be a father, but not at 19. It was far too young and though I was in love I knew that I wasn’t ready to be called dad.
Fortunately she wasn’t pregnant and I didn’t get to assume the mantle of fatherhood until I was 31. When my wife was pregnant with our first I found myself thinking about that moment in time and wondering how to prepare my child for it. We didn’t know whether we had a boy or girl, so I wasn’t really sure how I was going to approach it. I just knew that I had to start preparing myself to find a way to guide the children and answer their questions, whatever they may be.
But I really didn’t know what a wild and crazy ride parenting would be. I couldn’t have begun to describe it with all of the details and colors it deserves. It wasn’t until my son was born and the fun began that I began to truly understand how much of being a father is done by feel. Or in spite of my best efforts how many situations couldn’t be anticipated.
I grew up as the sole brother in a house with a million sisters so I knew what it meant to be the protective big brother, but I never understood that becoming dad would raise that to a new level. When my children were babies I promised them both to do my best to take care of them. In the quiet of the night while their mother slept I walked through the house and whispered promises to teach and care for them.
I told my son that I would teach him how to be a boy and help him become a man. Stared into my daughter’s eyes and apologized for beating up the boys that would come looking for her. I talked to them about all sorts of other things as well. Told them that they had to work hard in school and to remember that their family would always love them.
When I think about these moments I smile and laugh a little. They were infants. Little babies who were so little that they didn’t do much more than eat, sleep and fill their diapers with childly goodness. It was a little goofy, but I wanted to start early. I wanted to make some things clear so that when the hard times came they would feel like they always had someone in their corner.
My goal as their father has always been the same. I want them to grow up to be happy, well adjusted and productive members of society. I won’t lie and say that I don’t have other dreams for them because I do. I want them to be wildly successful. I want them to be better, happier and more fulfilled than I am. There is nothing profound or different in that, it just means that I am a parent.
But what I think is distinct from others is that I won’t hold them to doing anything other than their best at whatever it is they do. That gives them some leeway and some latitude. It might mean that they are in the highest reading group or that they are in remedial math. I don’t care as long as they are doing their best at whatever it is.
Because the one thing that I am certain of is that you can never fool yourself. When the lights go out and you are alone with your thoughts you always know whether you did your best, if you tried your hardest and whether you did the right thing. If you can go to sleep knowing that you did those things than life is probably going to be ok.
And I want them to know that when they fail, when they fall short I will still be there to help them. I may not agree with everything they have done or approve, but I will be there. I will be there because that is what fathers do.