Fatherhood is something of a topic that has been on my mind as of late. Wether it relates to the experiences I had with my father, to how I am with my son, to being a stepfather to my wife's children. In all cases, it is something that is very emotional and deep for myself. Even being able to call yourself "Dad" or a "Father" is not something that should be taken lightly and the word holds a lot of weight.
It all started with my childhood and the teeter totter relationship I had with my own father. He was the kind of man that had one hell of a sense of humor, could always make you laugh, and this personality that for me was infectious. But there was another side to him which related to alcoholism, lying, not stepping up when he should have, and etc. I write that with a heavy heart now because even though has been deceased for quite some time, I can still love the man that I yearned to spend time with and craved his attention. The sturdy man with the dark mustache, that even at 35 now thinking about my time with him back then, makes me tear up cause I still miss him a lot. Anyways...When I was 3 my parents divorced and I ended up living with my mom and saw my dad once a month if any. I viewed seeing my dad to the equivalent of "Disneyland". It was always a blast, I always got gifts, and got to run amok and do whatever. But more than anything I loved being able to sit down and watch wrestling with him, rough house in the pool, watch scary movies till midnight, and get that "father hug" that only a father could give you. It was a back and forth emotional ride with him due to his alcoholism and how that effected me being able to see him and how his faults and tribulations put a halt to the life possibilities and experiences we could have had. At one point when I was an older man I even disowned him for almost over a year (to this day I regret) because I felt he always treated me like a little child and not like an adult man that he could have a conversation with about life and everything in between. Then one day my ex wife realized how tortured I was internally about this and found a way to bring him and I together one day to reconcile. We talked for what felt like hours and he apologized for his actions (and me for mine) and he said that it was always like picking up from the last time he saw me and since that was far and few in between, it was like I never grew up in his eyes. I won't forget that day...because it was the last time I would ever see him again...1 week goes by and I get a call from him saying how proud he is of me and how he prayed for my continued success in life and how he couldn't be any prouder. I smiled and thought "Our father/son life can truly start again!" One week later...I get a call and hear from my aunt that he passed away in his sleep from a heart attack at the age of 55.
Im 35 now and it still stings when I think about what I just wrote you. But I hold on to the positive memories he gave me and the life lessons I gained for what a father is and what I can or won't do to my child. This now leads into "me" being a father...
That great looking boy up there is my pride and joy. He is so damn amazing in my eyes and he far exceeded any thought or notion of what I hoped my child would be. Not from any of my or my ex wife doing, but from being just plain and simple "himself". When I found out Seth was going to come into this world, I had such a surge of emotions...scared, ecstatic, excited, nervous, and everything in between. Would I be a good father? Would my son respect me? Would I be the kind of dad I always wanted to have in my life that I wanted from my own father? Also I didn't want to make the same mistakes I felt that were made with me. And then there he was...I couldn't believe it was already time to be a dad now. I remember being the first person to be able to touch his little hand and how I couldn't get rid of the shit eating grin on my face that this little man was my son. From that point on I can recall every single moment I have shared with him. Getting up in the middle of the night to help him when he was gassy, every bubble bath and play time, meals were always an adventure, when he first smiled at me, his first words, when he learned to walk, and to even now at 5 where it feels like Im talking to a 50 year old midget. lol Now am I the worlds best father? No and I don't feel anyone is. I have made my mistakes, but I will always try to learn and adapt, and I will always try my best to provide for my son emotionally and for his physical well being. I grin at the fact that I instilled in him at such an early age about manners...saying "thank you", "please", "no thank you", "I'm sorry", "I love you", and actually meaning these words without being prompted to do so. I also can tell you one of the most amazing experiences in my life that gives me goosebumps when it happens, is when I go to pick up my son and he sees me from afar...our eyes lock and he gets the biggest smile on his face and runs to me at mach speed and flies into my arms. I grab him tightly and he kisses my cheeck and says he's missed me so much. I almost always end up getting emotional and have to hold in the tears from being so happy. He then gets down and stands next to me smiling up and fidgeting like a madman. This little man thinks the world of me...I am everything to this boy..."me"...the guy who was scared shitless in wondering if I would be a good enough father for my child. And he is everything to me...I don't want to change him, alter who he is, all I want him is "him" in his rawest form...and its nothing less than amazing. I can say that I honestly feel I am blessed to have the privilege to be able to call him my son and I am blessed to be able to hear him call me "dad" and see that smile on his face that makes me know I must be doing something right.
Lastly, this leads me into the topic of being a stepfather. I never really knew what came with the territory with this. I always heard stories of others who became a parent to children that were something out of Nanny 911 or the exorcist. That didn't scare me one bit. To be honest, I was always under the impression that with whomever I met, I would accept their child or children as my own regardless with how they were. I actually am quite happy to say that I was blessed to have met an amazing woman named Angel whom I can now call my wife. She has three children whose ages range from 4-11 that are now "my" children as well....and I love each and every one of them just as much as I do my son Seth. Kinsley who is 4, is the charmer. The infectious smile and laugh, the little voice that makes me chuckle when she says something off the wall, and the fact that I already know Im going to be the gun toting dad that will scare off potential guys from wanting to date her when she is a teenager. haha. Then there is Logan who is 9. I honestly didn't feel at first that I wouldn't have as much in common with him as I actually do. But its sometimes creepy that I really really do. He's crazy smart, very affectionate, but also at times has had an anger problem that I can totally relate to being that I feel it stems from his actual father. He also is a bit sneaky about a few things but not so much so that he doesn't get caught. Lets just say I caught him playing video games when he shouldn't and it was almost similar to a story I had with my mom when I was his age. lol But I relate to him and I also have the privilege of being able to hear him call me "dad" now and not stepdad. I remember playing a video game with him and when I was losing I hear "DONT YOU HURT MY DAD!" and he came to my rescue in the game. My wife had the most priceless look on her face after hearing this. And finally there is Landen who is 11. He is personality wise very similar to me. Pretty quiet for the most part, insanely talented in art, loves food (especially every dish I have ever made him haha), incredibly responsible for his age, and also very hard on himself if he can't get things right on the first go. But we get each other and I love the connection he and I have from scary movies, to drawing, to our art, to everything in between. He is a bright young man and I couldn't be prouder of how he is.
There will always be days where my wife or I will want to pull our hair out (well...if I had any hair) but that doesn't change the fact that we wouldn't change any of it for the world because we are truly blessed. And whats even cooler is how Seth has even more brothers and a sister, after being an only child for so long. They are hilarious together and I can see how excited Angels' kids get when Seth is over, or hearing from the ex that Seth is super excited to see us all when he's back again. It makes me know something is being done right and that these kids' hearts are getting exactly what they need.
What does it truly mean to be a father? I feel it means to always put your child first and yourself second. To uplift. To encourage. To ALWAYS listen. To teach them life lessons. To teach values and respect. To provide. To love unconditionally. To understand. To guide. To knowing you will never always get it right but you will try your f'n hardest to do your very best for their sake. Being a father isn't something you gloat about, its not about wearing a hat that says "world's best dad", its not about it being "Disneyland" every time you have your child, and it sure as heck isn't something you take for granted. Being that there are three significant stages of my life to where I have learned things from (and Im still learning) you now know why this topic is a strong one for me. I remember hearing this saying before and it still ticks me off to an extent "a child needs their mom more than their dad". While in some cases this is definitely true, there are other cases where a dad is just as important as a mom. If possible it should be to where there is equal share and effort put into a child so that they benefit from both sides. That's just at least how I feel about it.
Something that I didn't get a chance to write on in this that ties into this topic, is that of the relationship of my grandfather and how impactful he was to me as I was growing up...up until the time he passed. The man that became my dad for me when my father wasn't present for parts of my life. The man that I respect, miss, and still have a hard time with knowing he is passed away. But thats a long story for next time.