For many people, Father’s Day is a time of celebration, as children who are blessed to call someone ‘Dad’ show their father figures how much they mean to them. However, what is often overlooked is that this is also a time of celebration by the fathers themselves. It can be a time of reflection for these men, as they think about how their lives have changed since they became parents. In this article from The Change Exchange, a dad of three shares his thoughts on the changes that fatherhood brings – and how being a parent means that you’ll always be able to find the child inside.
The first instinct I had towards the parental state occurred one night many years ago, while I was kicking a tennis ball against the cupboards in my kitchen. I was in my late 20s, and single, as I am now.
Before then, I simply assumed I might become a father one day, but didn’t have any strong feelings about it. Suddenly, with the ball bouncing helter-skelter, I keenly felt the absence of a little person to play with me. I became excited to think I might be destined to be a dad. I saw it as a sign, as something that had bubbled up from within me.
That urge was strong. I have three children now. Two of them, the youngest and the oldest, were not planned, and have different mothers. This may sound messy, even irresponsible, harking back to the days when I didn’t feel strongly about having kids, one way or the other.
But it’s not messy. It’s fantastic. On some level, I wanted both of these pregnancies to happen, even if they came as a surprise. The way I now understand my children’s mother’s roles is that they came into my life to introduce me to the my children.
If that sounds arrogant, it’s simply my way of managing the pain in the demise of our romantic relationships, helping me keep it tidy, open, honest and good with both the moms in the interest of my children, and my own sanity. My exes are both happy. I’m happy for of them and their new partners.
On my end, I’ve worked hard to establish a pattern and a structure which supports my parenting and my kids. I’d say we all are, as are our children. I have the space to be the parent I want to be, and to give and receive support at a distance that is comfortable.
So when Father’s Day swings around, these things come up. The struggle, the challenge, the loss, the growth and celebration. I can see my exes’ features in my kids’ faces and behaviours, and it’s a good thing. They are good mothers.
I remember how easily I might not have had kids, and celebrate the fact that I did, although it’s a celebration I keep to myself. I quietly contemplate the swings of fortune that brought me to this point.
There’s nothing ‘unplanned’ about the births of my first and last child. They were wanted and welcomed and landed well on this earth. I marvel at them, all three, for they came without me calling them. They simply heard that echo of the tennis ball in the kitchen one night, and came to play.
The fun I have had with them is immeasurable. They have allowed me to be a carefree child again, instead of the complicated adult I sometimes am, and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for that.