You will never not be a dad again. This states the obvious however what I am trying to say is that once you have been gifted with parenthood, your life becomes an epic journey in all directions away from yourself. While you are on that epic odyssey, you get the opportunity to witness the past, present, and future at the same time.
I have been a dad for 25+ years, and the experience has been nothing short of life altering. Perhaps transformative, transformational, eye opening and educational are more apt descriptors than life altering? Each and all simulataneously happening. Another life has come into existence as a result of what I can only describe as brilliant life choices. I can still remember the excitement at the news we were going to have a child. The joy, the tears, and excitement seemed to make the following 9 months fly past. And then we are in the hospital, it was not a drill.
I can still remember the exact time where the chaos, anticipation, and tension of the delivery room were broken by that first breath and cry. At that moment time stood still as I held a new universe in my hands for the first time. I wondered if all of the dad’s in the world felt the same way. Did life and circumstances afford them this privilege? I know the answer to that question is no, and that it can be complicated, but I would surely wish that happiness and peace on everyone. After the tears of joy, I could not wait to hold the future in my shaking hands.
For some reason the merger of these thoughts has me appreciating the moments even more, and looking forward to what comes next. Perhaps it is because of the lockdowns and travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic. Although I have not been able to see my dad in person for nearly 2 years, we remain close in daily conversations. The same goes for our son who has set off to a new city to write some new life chapters of his own. As The Band sang, “every distance is not near.” It has been crucial to continue strings of conversations and life catch-ups during this time. They have helped bridge the distance gap, but have been devoid of the joy of being in each others’ presence as in the past.
I reflect on this in 2021 because the role of father has definitely evolved since my own dad first celebrated father’s day. Dad’s fifty years ago were examples of hard work, discipline, and no nonsense. Dad’s were protectors and providers. They were the purveyors of wisdom and cheesy jokes too. 50 years later there are still many things in common with the way that fatherhood is done, but it has also come with the added layers of a connected world ready to offer an opinion or approach about everything. It’s as if the mystery of being a dad has been solved by a quick search and click on a blog post, magazine article or YouTube video.
Dads of the past never had the resources to add to their toolboxes as exist today. They had to create and cobble from past experiences, from making mistakes, and from a supportive and patient spouse who was trying to do the same as a parent. Dadding, fatherhood, parenthood, and adulting are iterative in so many ways. I fear that if mistakes are not made that something is really going to go wrong down the road of the future.
Perhaps it can be reduced to this: Being a dad is about showing the commitment to try, the courage to fail, and the character to get up and try again. My son has seen that in his dad, and I have witnessed it in my ‘pops’ too. This is why I cannot wait until the next time our 3 generation celebration can take place so we can consolidate our collective care and wisdom and honour our past, present, and future.
Happy Father’s Day. Happy S.M.I.L.E Day.