Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Be a Father

"The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road."
—Angelo Patri

It has been five years since I wrote "Fatherhood".

Five years of watching a miracle grow.

Five years of joy, worry, elation, sorrow, pride and wonder.

If I loved being a father five years ago, I'm not sure how to explain it now. There are things which define us because they are what we do - I climb rocks, therefor I am a rock climber - and then there are things which define us because they are what make up our souls.

The quote I used in "Fatherhood" has become even more poignant to me.

"There's something like a line of gold thread running through a mans words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself."
—John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

Growing up I was always very expectant of each new milestone. Kindergarten. First grade. Middle school. High school. Graduation. Turning 18. Turning 21. Each time I was disappointed. I always experienced that let-down of when you don't get the gift you were expecting. That morning-after-Christmas blues.

Because what I was expecting was to feel different. I always thought I would cross some threshold and would suddenly be a changed person. What exactly that meant, I wasn't certain. But I heard people talk excitedly about each milestone like it was special. And each time I failed to feel that wonder I thought must be there.

As I got a little older I thought I pinned down that elusive something. I wanted to feel like an adult. I was waiting for that one event that would signal my change from a child into an adult.

But that did not happen.

Each hallmark of a life-well-lived passed without me feeling very adult-like at all. In fact, I really felt like I was faking it.

That was it. Everything I have done in my life I have done with a sense of it not really being...legitimate. Like I was pretending to be something I am not. I would look at the paradigm for X and come to the conclusion that I was certainly not X. I wasn't an adult. I was a child pretending to be an adult.

I have found that most of us feel this way.

But the day the Chickabiddy was born I did feel changed. It was like the molecules of my being rearranged, reformed into something new. The birth of my daughter was like an annealing of my character. I picked up the mantle of fatherhood and found that it not only felt comfortable, it felt natural and right and...perfect.

I cannot now remember not being a father.

I have heard many people say that having children changes your life. I agree. However, I do not agree that this is a bad thing. The connotation of that statement is almost always a negative one. The implication is that life becomes limited and restricted because of children. Tosh. My life became richer, fuller and more vibrant. Possibilities opened up that I never imagined. Maybe I was more of an adult than I realised.

I simply love being a daddy.

I still watch my daughter with amazement. Six years have flown by since I heard her first cry of life and they have been a wonderful six years. She is amazingly intelligent. And her heart is so tender and caring it makes my heart ache. I am still excited with the potential of her life, but after watching her grow and learn for six years I am also astounded by what she has already become.

I am connected to both that potential and that growth. And maybe that's why this feels so natural to me. I do not have to pretend. It is not something separate or removed from the rest of my life. In a very real way I have picked up the experiences of my life and have gone back to the beginning, to walk along side my daughter. Hand in hand.



Haley @ Climb Run Lift Mom said...

Aw :) That just about brought tears to my eyes to read that. You really hit the nail on the head with how becoming a parent makes you feel. It's definitely something special.

Shauna said...

How touching! Reminds me so much of me during my early adulthood...waiting for the next thing. With my kids, living in the moment and in constant awe of them become little people. Glad a discovered your blog.