Fatherhood begins before you realize you are a father. It grows within you as you play at adulthood, guiding friends and younger siblings. Yet, is that truly fatherhood or just the spark?
Fatherhood is never stagnant
Fatherhood is never stagnant. It cannot be for the forces of children’s energies would devour any stagnation.
Fatherhood is a way of moving forward. Pushing us, pulling us toward a better version of ourselves… a version we never thought possible… a version that is a whole.
For the mystery is that father’s are not just strong. They must be flexible and bend with the wills of the child much like the tree bends with the breeze. For children rarely move in a straight line or stay calm for long. When we stand too firm against them, one of us will break, and once broken it takes many lifetimes to mend the ragged edges.
Fatherhood is About Presence
Fathers are not just an income. They must be present in more than an allowance and a paycheck. For children must understand that money is not the basis for life. Money is something to assist in life, to open doors, but jobs come and go. Incomes they vary. Family is forever. Family is what carries us through the door.
Fathers are not emotionless. Nothing is gained from a pillar of stone, or a sturdy oak. Children may learn from staring into a mirror, but never a blank slate. Providing them examples of mirth, joy, sadness, anger, and resilience will only help them grow in themselves and understand that balance of the throes of life’s passions.
A father is wholeness. Equal parts joy and sorrow, sturdy oak and soft sapling. Fathers live life anew in their children. They must recognize the joy of discovering grass after a long white winter and how two and two make four and how simple machines work and the fear of facing an elephant for the first time.
A father is laughter and pain. Discipline and forgiveness. Fathers are honest in their lessons, but hold their wisdom as a leprechaun its gold. For wisdom must flow forth when it must and when a child needs it most, lest the wisdom be forgotten and spilled across the floor in a thousand tiny pieces.
A father is mistakes, a kaleidoscope of failure and swallowing of pride, that lands upon our shoulders at bedtime.
A father is soreness, stiffness, and exhaustion. A father is going to bed knowing you’ve given the day everything and the ache in your legs, back, and knees all stem from a child’s laughter and tears.
A father is knowing that hugs are fleeting and never to be ignored.
A father is thick skin and recognizing the agency in your children. For one day, they will push back and say enough, and not now, and stop with the lessons, and I don’t need you anymore, and countless other words that are as harsh as they are careless. They are winter’s stormy bite and the sting of a wasp, but they are only the words of a child and they do not carry the weight of late night bed changes, or blow-out diapers, or scraped knees that need yet another bandage even though the scratches have healed.
Words of Fatherhood
These are the words of youth and adventure and foolishness.
They are the words of growth and experimentation and unfurled wings. They are the words to test your strength and your flexibility. They are meant to test your love and forgiveness.
They are the same words you used on your parents as you drove for the first time, returned after curfew and explored newfound friendships that flew in the face of common sense.
Fatherhood is remembering the terrors you faced and survived and eventually grew, failed, and then thrived.
As will your children.
As will theirs.
Fatherhood is a wheel. Circling and cycling through us all. Sometimes squeaky and sometimes broken, but always repairable.