Friday, November 04, 2005

Labels... (not the kind on clothes, the human kind)

Read an entry like this on another blog (and for the life of me I can't remember which one - otherwise I would give credit where credit is due) and decided it was something that touched me as well... so here ya go, my version.

I've never generally thought of myself "as" a particular something. Not as an ops manager (my career), not as a political/humor/educational essayist (something I am enjoying doing now), not as an especially deep-thinker (what can I say, I love The Simpsons). Of all the identities and labels (see, a tie-in to the title) that I've worn in my brief stopover on this hunk of rock we call Earth, the only one I truly have felt perfectly comfortable wearing has been that... of Dad.

For the most part I am comfortable being a father. Weird as that sounds, considering I've only been a father for a little over three years, I find more enjoyment, more excitement, and more keenness out of fatherhood, then anything else I've ever done. It is not because of any particular outstanding achievement on my part. As a father, I'm run-of-the-mill material, maybe more involved then some, maybe not. In all probability, I'm probably fairly average with regards to my generation. To put it another way; I muddle through.

Practically anyone can have a child (and God knows, some people who shouldn’t have children do, but I have no control or power over that… yet) but to truly be a father involves more then just supplying half the genetics. You have to like being a father. And that means liking the wholeness of it. The essence of it, not just the playtime with your kids or the joy on their faces on Christmas morning, but all of it - the endless face-cleaning, screaming, clamor, arm-pulling, vomit-cleaning, potty-training, broken plate, "who the heck did that", "stop pulling the dogs tail" crying, shrieking, laughing mess of it all.

You have to like it. It has to be a part of who you are and what you are.I guarantee, that if you can embrace it, you will never look in your mirror again without seeing a reflection of that essence in your eyes, or in your viewpoint on life.Granted (and this can serve as a warning to all the father-to-be’s and father wannabes out there)… not all of it will be fun.

You can't be awakened for three nights in a row at 1:00 am with a sick child who just threw-up, not only on the last set of clean sheets in the house but on her sister... (and on her stuffed animals... on the dog who had to run in to see what the hub-bub was... on the floor... on the walls... you get the picture) and necessarily enjoy it, need to be able to deal with it and deal with it well.

You have to be able to deal with it in a...dare I say it...’professional’ style. (Let’s face it, you may not like your work or career choice from day-to-day either, but it’s the certain elements of the job that inspire you, that uplift you, that bring you enjoyment, success and excitement. Though they may only be on occasional instances and not the whole. But these things color your choice, inspire your interest, and keep you fighting the good fight)

Fatherhood feels somewhat like that.

You feel it most when you are with your child. Last week I took my daughters to one of the parks near us (Only I went because my wife was painting our family room. Why was she painting it you ask? Because I suck at painting... at least that’s what I like to make her believe, but that’s fodder for another entry on another day)

I had the girls at the park, sliding down the big slides, swinging on the swings (sense a theme here?) and running around.

After doing this for about an hour we stopped (Dad isn’t as young as he used to be) and I proceeded to load them into the car for the quick trip home. As I’m climbing into the drivers seat, I spotted the two of them watching me, peeking under their Eastern Illinois University sweatshirt hoods, to see what I was doing.

They were just watching me.

Watching… their dad… with a smile on their face.