…Until I Became A Father

There’s a particular phrase I hear from some dads, spread thinly throughout the year, but clustered around Father’s Day:

“I didn’t know what it was to be a man until the day I became a father”.

It’s a lovely sentiment at first glance, and I’m pleased that this realisation of how to be, finally came.

But it does make me admire the mother of your child or children: Apparently she had the foresight and trust that you’d finally learn to become a real, fully rounded person. Who can say how much of a gamble that might have been for her? To trust that, once the baby was here, you learn the required skills of empathy and responsibility.

Personally if I hadn’t, eventually, learnt how to become an actual human being instead of a travesty in shoes there’s not a chance Elodie’s mum would have wanted to procreate with me. I needed to show empathy, responsibility for my actions, demonstrate a willingness and ability to be the father of our child. But before that child was conceived, not afterwards. And it’s still a work in progress.

This, after all, instead really a dig at men who become better people due to a baby-shaped epiphany. Because we can always be better. We must always be better. Stasis is death and decay and our children deserve better than that.

Happy Father’s Day

There’s an easy portion of dads for whom this is a simple equation: Your child or children, most likely with a not-insubstantial assistance from mum, will provide some measure of thought or consideration. Perhaps a card, gift or meal. As someone who was previously philosophically opposed to these kind of days, deriding them as card company gimmicks, I can’t wait.

But it’s worth giving a thought to those for whom Father’s Day is prone to more mixed feelings. Those whose fathers or children are no longer with them, and those like myself that are soon to be fathers but are still hoping everything is going to be okay. Those, like myself, who suddenly find themselves superstitious, over-cautious and furiously optimistic, trying not to give voice to fears that are totally out of our control. Wondering whether having a little tipple to celebrate Father’s Day is being dangerously pre-emptive, or just natural excitement for what’s to come.

Maybe a bit of both. So, for now, whatever your paternal circumstances: Bottoms Up!