When a father wakes up in the middle of the night he does something that I don’t think even most mothers do. Well, I will rephrase that. When I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself unable to sleep – I usually will get out of bed and walk to check if all the kids are in bed and asleep. I walk from one room to the next – giving a kiss to each of my children; I stand and I watch them, taking in the silence, the breathing – and wrestling with myself to not wake them up with a hug. I then go back to bed content that all are safe and I feel, relaxed. Relaxed? Hmm, not sure if thats the word but anyway…
Being a father is, to me, a gift unequalable (a new word) to anything in this world. When you first find out that you are going to be a father – it doesn’t really hit you. You act like you are excited but you know you are more frightened than excited. You go see the sonogram and you are first beginning to shake. You are walking on shaky ground and do not know what to expect. When the child is born and its love at first site – its as if an earthquake has hit and you are unable to collect your emotions.
The first year is a marathon for the parents and the kid. The kid begins his life helpless, needing to be fed, changed, bathed and held. Then they begin to crawl, walk, and then to talk. They get taller and suddenly they are little people who look to Daddy as if he is superman.
Suddenly, as if overnight, they are turning 12 or 13 and act as if they are 32 years old and do not need superman like they used to. You grab your lasso and put them back in their place – using the fact that they still need to get dressed, eat and have a place to sleep as leverage.
One morning you see that 12 has turned 18 and speaking as if he knows everything. Not only that he knows everything but that “Daddy” knows nothing. Superman is just an actor and you can’t even argue that point because you have been caught. Like the wizard behind the curtain is revealed to be nothing more than a regular man – you are revealed to be nothing more than, well, a man.
Superman has lost his cape and time is the kryptonite that has weakened him. Time, pride, dreams and youthful expectations have been pawned at the local pawn shop in exchange for cold hard cash.
Love triumphs all though and this fact is what keeps us going, keeps us moving when the road is full of mud and feels like drying cement. We keep on moving because we are blessed with the blessings of unconditional love.
When they are infants you put your finger in their hands and they grasp it tight. When they begin to walk they hold your hands as you cross the streets or when a scary dog is passing by. You don’t fight it – you love it. Before you know it the time to passes quickly and reverses the need to hold hands from the little child to the older man.
When they are younger they rush to the door when they know its you coming home – before you know it you are acknowledged in a whisper or a wave and wait up for them to get home.
But don’t be deceived. You are still Superman in their eyes. Although “beat up and battered around” you are still the one they look up to because you are “Dad”. Nothing can stop you from wanting to be there for them, with them and around them as they begin to turn into their first phase of adulthood. All you want in exchange is for them to be…happy? I don’t know if that’s the word. Satisfied? At peace? No those don’t work either. Let’s see how do I feel when I see them or hear their voice?
Lovingly fulfilled. Yeah that’s it.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there, to all those who have played that role. Its a role in a play that is acted out on stages around the world; Superman doesn’t wear a mask to hide his eyes or his emotions…in fact most times we wear our emotions on our capes as we fly from one room to another just to remind us what makes us fly.
I love this Fredo. One of the best pieces I’ve read on fatherhood.