Today was my first Father’s Day as the father of a living human child, a day of great joy and reflection. It began with a trail walk together as a family, continued with boot camp so I can try to stave off this dad bod, peaked with a Texas BBQ family brunch, and now it’s about to wind down with Star Wars. I’m new to fatherhood, but so far I feel like we’re doing it right!
Actually I’m not entirely new to fatherhood. In some ways I have felt like a father previously – ever since our first pregnancy several years ago. In this way, though, I felt like ultimate failure of a father. If you take one of a father’s primary roles to be the protection of his offspring, I failed again and again and again. One might argue that there was nothing I could do about those pregnancy losses; I would both agree and respond that that feeling of impotence only exacerbated the feeling of failure as a father – and as a husband.
Now, with a healthy, beautiful child my relationship with my own fatherhood has changed. Fatherhood brings me joy and wonder. It brings me a new connection with my own dearly departed father that I share with him across space and time. It brings me a stronger bond with Katie, who is already establishing herself as such a strong, capable, tender mother.
Perhaps the greatest feeling fatherhood brings me today is gratitude. I’m so thankful to my child for, well, making me a father. And to Katie – without whom it wouldn’t have been possible! And to our parents, family, and friends, who have all shaped me into the father that I am today.
I have been so incredibly blessed to have had excellent father figures in my life: uncles, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends – even my mom, who, as a single mother, was the best mom and dad a boy could hope for. They say it takes a village to raise a child. In my case, it has taken a village to raise a father!
So, on this Father’s Day, I toast not just the biological fathers out there but all of those caring father figures who enrich the lives of kids like me – often without ever even signing up to do so!
Of the father figures I have been so fortunate to call my own, we lost a really good one last December. He will always be missed but his legacy endures in the outstanding father his own son has become and on the indelible mark he has left on me. So, a toast to him as well!
And a final toast: this one to all of the would-be fathers out there. As I mentioned in my last post, we know many, many people who are struggling with or have struggled with infertility. On a day honoring fathers, you guys may feel excluded. Whether you are still trying to become a father or whether you have made peace and moved on, I also honor you on this day – and I hope you will always remember that I’m with you.
So here’s to you all: may the Force be with you . . . always!