There are certain days of the year when I pause to reflect. Father’s Day is among those days. It is a day to be present, but also to remember the past, with grand hopes for the future.
I am a father going on 12 years now. I became one late on a Thursday night in September of 2011, as my firstborn emerged from his place of residence, which he was stubbornly trying to avoid.
Maybe I became a father before that when my wife shared the news that the pregnancy test was positive. I’m not sure, truly.
I like to think I was predisposed to the job as I had a wonderful childhood experience at the hands of a wonderful parents. I saw how to do it. Had a front row seat to all the times that populate growing up.
Sometimes when folks tell stories they gloss over the hard times and highlight the great times, but to do that, in my estimation, really doesn’t give the whole story its due.
Parenting is really fucking hard. Grinding out life on the daily is enough to make even the most resilient of us humble. I saw the embodiment of perfectly imperfect perfection in my father.
I say this because on a day where platitudes, compliments, and the most prime of memories are featured; I feel it necessary to define the totality of the term father by highlighting the less glorious parts as well.
We are imperfect despite our inclination to not be so. We try our best, and sometimes things don’t amount to what was planned. Plenty of times we are given variables that are impossible to solve, yet we strive to come up with a workable solution.
Being a father is being a Dad. It is being present. It is being scared. It is not knowing all of the answers. It is sometimes finding the strength to cry when all around us expect us to hold the line.
Being a Dad is being a Daddy. Holding a tinier version of ourselves for a short time. It is partnering with our wives to keep these kids alive. It is to quell the hunger. Change the diapers. Hold the hands. Kiss the boo boos. Rock until your arms and legs are unable to move and they are able to go to sleep.
It is wiping up spills. Applying band-aids. It is to vanquish the monsters under the beds or in the closets. It is to wipe the soiled faces and hands. It is to keep them from harm.
Until they learn to do these things for themselves.
You spend the entirety of your parenthood learning on the job, and hope that on your worst day you still shine an example of life that they will remember and apply in their lives when they need it most.
Being a father, Dad, Daddy is a noble pursuit, and it is the best thing that I’ve ever experienced. I know I’m imperfect, as my father was before me. And despite knowing this, I can subvert my ego long enough to allow the love of my children to forgive me for this.
Because in the end, being present and loving beyond measure and trying your goddamned hardest is what it is truly is all about.
Being a parent is not a road to perfection, but the road of treasured learning and knowledge which hopefully can be paid forward and embraced by our children.
I hope my kids are watching, as I watched my Dad. I learned so much, that didn’t show up in my mind until much later on. I now possess an enormous amount of love and appreciation for my father for being the most perfectly imperfect father I could have asked for.
I wish a Hearty and Healthy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. If you ever feel alone, don’t. You are not. You have a legion of brothers with you in the trenches learning on the job that are doing their best to raise good people. You are part of something larger than yourself. Do your best to be present, remember the past, and hold grand hopes for the future.