COUNSELING & PSYCHOTHERAPY

I’m A Dad

I’m a dad…

If you ask me where I am, I’ll tell you. If you ask me how I am, I’ll tell you. If you ask me who I am, I’ll tell you, I’m a dad. That’s me. That’s who I am. If you ask me why I am, I’ll tell you, I’m here to love. I am a dad and I am here to love unconditionally as much as my human condition will allow me, and whatever it doesn’t allow, I’ll fight for.

That’s what daddy’s do…

I have been saying this since the birth of my first child Autumn, who was born in 2000. It has always been a way to remind myself of the complexity of fatherhood. Autumn, a political science major in Austin, Texas, was born into the lives of two adult children who didn’t have a clue or a pocket to stuff it in. She was my first child and my first adult. She taught me how to love. When you’re younger and having children, you have to rely on instincts, luck, and the divine or spiritual interventions of your choosing. In many ways the three of us were peers. We crash landed on planet family and were learning together.  Some level of this occurs through each and every child, regardless of the child’s age or experience level of the father. In a way, “that’s what daddy’s do” reminds me that it’s not the popular decisions that parent a child, it’s the hard ones. If you want to be a good father, you’re going to have to be unpopular and you’re going to have to work at it. As a father, I second guess myself. I get defensive at criticism. I’m uncomfortable with praise. I am constantly in this place of wanting to get it right. If something goes well it’s because it’s supposed to, if it goes wrong it’s because I failed. I get that everything in this world has an influence on my children, but I am too busy being a father to care. The buck stops with me, warts and all. I take full responsibility for my children, because I’ll never expect anybody else to, and because they’re awesome people, and because that’s what daddy’s do.

When in doubt, love…

My second child Ayla was born in 2002. Ayla was born into this world and she brought a version of love that I didn’t know existed. It’s one thing to have your first child, it’s another to have your second. I never would have guessed that I had so much more love to give. I was out of the military and we moved back home for stability. In many ways we were not quite adults yet and the stability was not there. I was in a band with close friends and I was working multiple jobs. It was hard to make rent and keep the lights on. It was hard to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It was the plight of the poor in a baseline of crisis. My only wealth was love. I can still feel what Ayla felt like as a baby. With one eye on my toddler and two arms around my baby, I was the richest man born on Earth. If Autumn taught me how to love, Ayla taught me why to love. Loving Ayla reminded me that I could never be poor. That no matter what, I would always possess something my children needed. Love. That beautiful child is becoming an extraordinary young woman now and is the epitome of love as the filter of all things. To be a good father you need only one back up plan. Love. When in doubt love, love as a verb, that’s what daddy’s do.

Be there, literally…

My third child Aidan got here as fast as he could. It felt like that. Holding him just seconds after his birth was surreal. A son. A baby boy. A little boy. A young man. In the future, a full grown man. It felt like a different responsibility than with my two daughters. I knew that with my two daughters there would be things I couldn’t understand. They were going to have issues that would be taken directly to their mother while waving to me on the way. I would always be right there at home as needed with my catchers glove on.  The beautiful complexities of being female. Well, I have a son now and with that all of his beautiful complexities. He reminded me that I can’t be a father if I’m not there. Literally there, like right there. Like not being able to win the raffle unless you’re present there. It seemed as if when my son needed me, he needed me before he knew he needed me. I started to see that with my daughters as well. I had to be there, right there. It’s still that way. He made three. He taught me that I can’t let my guard down, not for a second. Sometimes you take your foot off the gas and sometimes you put your foot on the break, but never is there an option to do nothing. Nothing is the easy way out. Pain is hard but joy is harder. Our kids need us. They don’t need us to merely exist, they need us to be there, literally, and we will because that’s what daddy’s do.

It’s the moment that matters…

Memories are wonderful but it’s the moments that matter. I found myself on the other side of a divorce. There was nothing I could do. I found myself inside the tail of someone else’s comet. Thankfully I had three amazing children to show for the beauty of it. That was all the reconciliation I needed. I had the remarkable good fortune to meet a woman who would turn my world upside down and through divine intervention we were married. The love we shared was something special and we both knew it. It’s still that way. As we created a life together with all it’s blended family intricacies, our years became fuller. Each year felt like a decade. We learned that moments and memories mattered. Nothing makes you savor the right now more than approaching mid life. Nothing makes you want to create life more than a deep love that regularly deepens. We had issues though. Here we were, years in and both working professionals. I’m in the mental health field and my wife is in the medical field. We have a week on week off blended family without the pleasure of a co-parenting structure. I am a hands on father and my wife is a very active step-parent. I had a vasectomy in another life and was now in my early 40’s. My wife was approaching a step past her mid thirties. We knew every detail of our situation prior to devoting our life to one another, and to my children, and to our families. All things considered, let’s create a child. Let’s bring another life into our magical world. Yes, the terrain can be rough at times and the journey is most uncertain. We chose IVF. It was a lengthy process and a very scary and emotionally exhausting time. Every moment mattered. The stars had to align just right for even a poor chance of success. Every moment of the process to get pregnant mattered, and every moment of the pregnancy mattered. He was born into this world and struggled for a handful of death defying days. The moments in the hospital. The moments in the NICU. My wife and I navigated a stopped world, leaning on each others fragile bones and trembling muscles. It was a fever dream. To see the beauty and cruelty of life working so closely together was a harrowing experience. Every single moment had meaning and mattered. I became a stronger parent. He is okay. My fourth child taught me that it’s only the moment that matters, and the real effort is collecting those moments as you live other ones. Every single moment with each of my four children matters to me, and I will spend my life collecting them because that’s what daddy’s do.

2 Comments

  1. Your Dad. on November 22, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Wonderful! You are truly blessed. And yes, that’s what Daddy’s do.

  2. Mom on January 18, 2019 at 5:55 am

    This is the most beautiful real life story I have ever read indeed. Thank You

Leave a Comment