I didn’t become a father on the day you were born. I started becoming a father years before that day. It was a process that started as fleeting thoughts of what it would be like if I ever had a child. Those moments when I would see a man and his child crossing the road or those times I would sit with friends and we would talk about fathers and how we won’t turn out like them. But what I did not anticipate was that I would never really stop becoming a father.
What we don’t often realise about fatherhood is that is a process of being more than a state of being. It is a process that is always changing. When you were born I was 25yrs old and I wasn’t just your father. I was a boyfriend, a young professional who was just catching the first whiffs of a real salary, a guy on the cusp of the life that I’d only ever imagined growing up. Society tends to make us believe that you have a child, you become a father and, somehow, that’s it – your ‘fatherness’ remains frozen in time. The reality is that from the day of your birth to this very day, I have been many things under many different circumstances and all this have had a direct impact on the type of father I am to you.
When your mother told me she was pregnant, I was nowhere near being ready to be a father. As much as I knew that I wanted to be a father at some point, (I named you 3yrs before you were born) this was not the point I had imagined. That was who I was at the point in my life; a young man ill-prepared to have a child. I had to deal with a lot of my own demons before I came to the point where I stepped into the role. But my demons had left scars. Because of past hurts, I became very stubborn and brash towards people who at times meant well. I started breaking family traditions and disregarding customs that had to precede the birth of a child because I felt they would turn me into a father I didn’t want to be – a coward. I was wrong. But, this was who I was at that point in my life – clueless as to how to integrate an entire family into the process of your birth yet, neglecting the fact that these people were about to become grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.
At some point, myself, your mother and you were a close knit family of 3 living in another province away from any family. That was who I was at that point of my life. Then there was 5 of us as we lived with cousins and I found myself a father to 2 teenagers and a baby. At the same time, I was also trying to piece together a career while still entertaining the whims of reckless abandon that come with being a 20 something. My priorities changed. I was not same father I was to you before.
There was a point in which me and you lived in different provinces. As I write this, you’re asleep on my bed a few weeks from your 7th birthday and much has changed. Where we stay, it is just me and you. You came to stay with me a few years. I was single, no social life and going through drastic life changes, living in a new city and going through a major career overhaul. That was who I was at that point of my life and, I still had to be a father to you.
Now, there are many other changes that are happening and, through it I am still your father. What has become clear to me is my fatherhood has never been the same for any extended amount of time. The truth is that there’s no blueprint as to how to deal with these changes. No one right way of doing anything and an infinite number of ways it could all go wrong. I keep wondering what the next change will be. The funny thing is that a father to you and very much the same as you being son to me. We are both navigating through waters we’ve never waded in before. The only way to know where to go is to learn from each other. In formulating how to be a father to you, I have to base it on being not just a father but a father to you. I have adapt to your ebb and flow. I have to change as you change, grow as you grow. Also, as you grow, you have to adapt to me and how my life flows. And the flow of life is change.