I Am a Father*

I am a father.

I have no idea whether I am a good father or a bad father, I only know that this is what I am and this is my purpose in life. It sits well with me and I am happy.

In the nine and a half years that I have been a father I have been flying by the seat of my pants. You see my own father died before I was born and so I have no reference, no guiding experience of what I should or shouldn’t do or be… but I try. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose but I guess I will have to wait another 20 years or so to see whether I did it well or not, to get the report card from my kids.

But my greatest joy is something that my father never had the opportunity to experience. I have a son… I have a SON.

I could never have anticipated what that would mean or what an impact having a son would have on me. My first two children were girls and I loved them with every ounce of existence but to have a son? When he was born I was over the moon but almost immediately a fear set in. How could I be Daddy to a boy? I even resented his existence for a time. I had been happy and content with the girls in my life, I knew girls, I knew women but I knew nothing about boys. When I looked at him I would feel an enormous empty ache fill my chest, grief for my father, my daddy; that strange figure in black and white who left me alone. I didn’t want my boy because I knew that I would fail him, I knew that he would hate me and grow up resenting me because I didn’t know how to be. I couldn’t explain these feelings to Amber or to anyone, I mean, it was warped wasn’t it? I was a bad man for even thinking such thoughts. What kind of a father felt these things towards an infant?

So all I could do was continue. I saw this little lump of male flesh grow into a real baby with a smile the size of the moon and with the biggest blue eyes of any boy child I had ever seen. I watched him go through the same stages the girls had but he seemed slower, less able, somehow less of me. Everyone told me that he was just like me, in miniature… I only saw Amber. I just could not see anything of myself in this child and whilst I loved him, there was no connection, I couldn’t feel the bond that I had read about… this father – son thing, there wasn’t the tie there was between my girls and me.

Then suddenly, when he was about two, he started needing me. Not in the way the girls needed me but in a strange and different way. He needed something ONLY I could give, he needed me. The more he needed me, the more I warmed to him and the more my soul thawed. I saw so much in him, so much that I had never seen in myself. I saw the growth of care, the bravery of a three year old, the concern and love of a four year old for his sisters, the insatiable curiosity of an agile mind, the unquenchable thirst for life of a boy, the sheer joy of loving and living. But most of all I saw the growth and development of a relationship the likes of which, in my wildest dreams, I never thought possible. I saw the flowering of this strange, unknowable father – son friendship.

Every waking moment I sought him out, not to interfere or to hamper, but to watch, to listen, to experience him. I wanted to hold him and to smell him; I wanted to be close to him constantly. I learned his ways, his moods, his frustrations. Each day, as I learned him more I saw little pieces of myself… the lost things, the frozen things, and as I saw them I began to see who I was, for the very first time in my life.

My boy loves me with a raging, open, unsullied and unconditional love. He loves me like I have never been loved. He loves me the way I have always needed to be loved and I, in return, love him like a hurricane. My boy is teaching me about myself and he is letting me see myself through his eyes. My boy is helping me grow up and my lack is a lack no longer. He has birthed the man in me. My boy is unique, he is only himself; he is the brightest star, the sweetest note, the widest ocean. He is the blue of the sky and the freshness of the breeze. My boy is the sun on my shoulders and the road beneath my feet, he is my life and if anyone ever tells me he is like me I swell with pride and know that I could only ever hope to be like him.

My son is the father I never had.

(*posted on www.mommybloggers.com in 2006)