After a long break from posting owing to us moving house then having our third daughter born three weeks later, I have finally gotten round to writing a post. So here’s one for father’s day…
Depending on what you read and who you speak to, fatherhood means a very wide range of different things. There’s the age old view of fathers that TV, the media and some people I’ve encountered seem to portray of us: the inept, bumbling fool who forgets birthdays, won’t lift a finger around the house and is basically clueless about the fundamental needs of a child. Then of course there’s the self-proclaimed antithesis of this, the expert at being a perfect father. This one’s always posting on Facebook about how all men and fathers should be just like him. He usually includes a selfy of him the day he once changed a nappy (“come on dad’s, look I’ve changed this nappy, why can’t you all be like me?”) What a hero!
We’re under pressure not just from the media (social or otherwise) though. At home there’s pressure to be a good husband/partner without letting the fatherly duties slide. To be a breadwinner, to be a good employee at work. To earn enough to fulfill as many of your childrens’ wishes and dreams as possible. The demands are endless. There’s also the internal pressure we put on ourselves, if we slip up on a single one of these demands we beat ourselves up and the way we see it, we’re essentially the bumbling idiot ‘TV father’ that society tells us we are. (I’d like mothers to know that deep down we worry as much as they do!)
But the way I see it, none of this matters. The only thing that matters is your children. All these internal and external pressures are imagined. To me the meaning of fatherhood can be summed up in two words: Being There. I mean that both figuratively and literally. Being there for our children. When we’re with them for the small stuff, they’ll learn that we’re there when they need us for the big stuff. We can’t physically be there 100% of the time but its making the best of when we are. It’s not letting our minds be preoccupied or distracted with work or money or any of the other demands placed on us. Listening to them, talking to them, showing them we’re really truly present and we are happy to be there! It’s not easy, and no one’s ever perfect. Sometimes the pressure gets us, we prioritise something else. Our minds wander, that’s OK. But if our children know that no matter what, we are always there when they need us, truly there, they will reach up high without fear. They’ll reach high knowing that whether they succeed or fail, we will be there to help and encourage them. Encouraging them either to reach again when they fall or to reach higher when they do touch the stars. Fatherhood to me is truly being there with them when we can, because we only get this one chance. Everything else can wait.