While not a newbie and by no means a seasoned veteran, I would like to say that I have obtained considerable experience as a father…especially in the role of the father of two beautiful, dynamic, intelligent and compassionate young girls.
But, as my children continue to mature and as their interests and activities begin and continue to take them away from always being at home and hanging out as a family unit, I have begun to think about how my role as father has evolved and changed over the past 13 years and where it will go over the next 13 years.
No question that in my earlier days as a new dad, my role was that of caretaker; diaper changing, clothing changer, bath provider, tooth brusher, food feeder, safety man when they were learning to crawl and then walk…a hand always there to prevent their little heads from bashing into tables and chairs.
It then shifted into role of explorer and teacher…exposing my young daughters to the natural beauties of the earth…seeing their first bird, the clouds, leaves on trees…butterflies. Holding them in my arms as we walked outside and seeing their reaction as a big gust of wind blew making their eyes shutter and having to gasp as they swallowed the rushing air. Reading stories to them, helping them form words and begin to actually identify letters and words. Acting as a life-preserver when I took them into the water for the first time….wiping away their tears when they took a tumble in the playground…applying Polysporin and band-aids..because band-aids fix any “boo-boo” (even when there isn’t a “boo-boo” to be found).
Sitting with them in the bathroom as they “did their business” on the toilet instead of in their diaper…acting as puke cleaner-upper when they caught a stomach bug and didn’t know what it was to be sick into a garbage can or run to the bathroom, instead just letting loose whenever and wherever.
Flash-forward to the early days of school…helping them get ready for the first big day…soothing their tummies that were filled with butterflies in anticipation. Attending school-related functions for holiday concerts to sporting events. Even assuming the role of School Council Chair so I could be closer to the action at school; to know what kind of place my child was going to every day and to help ensure that those educating her were given every chance to use the best tools available.
Homework…lots of tears and frustration (mine and theirs). The sense of pride seeing the fruits of our labour paying off when they came home with an A+ on a project or test, with smiles from ear to ear.
The bearer of bad news…including the loss of their beloved grandmother in 2006..just weeks before my oldest daughter’s 9th birthday. Having to explain the concept of death but reminding them constantly about the need to talk about their grandmother and that the memories they have of her will last them a lifetime and bring them tremendous joy.
Weekends….lots of weekends…spent as a family…just hanging out; packing the stroller and all the necessary accessories (bottles, Goldfish, Cheerios), hats, sunscreen…everything but the kitchen sink. Driving to different parts of our city to take family strolls. Taking the kids sledding and skating in the winter and to amusement parks and the beach in the summer.
These days, my role is that of chauffeur…mostly to my older daughter..picking her up at a friends house or at the mall on a lousy, snowy day. Acting as the voice of calm and compassion when hearing about their ordeals with friends who aren’t so friendly. The champion of our daughters to teachers and principals, when there lonely voice isn’t always heard.
Listening intently to the day’s events at school or special things that they encountered at school.
Loving them so completely and never stopping to tell them how much they are loved and how truly wonderful they are. Watching them interact as siblings often do…playing and laughing together one moment and bickering the next.
Writing this blog and reading it back makes me realize that as a dad, at least to these two children, I have a very valuable role and a coveted place in their lives. While they will continue to develop and become more independent, I know my place in their lives is secure. It might change but will never diminish in its importance. They need me as much as I need them.
Fatherhood looks good on me. Like a comfortable sweater or tailor-made piece of clothing , fatherhood feels terrific and suits me.