Father’s Day has passed once again, and if you’d like to know, I had a very nice one, thank you.
It’s all about the time spent together. And there’s nothing like a personally written, heart-felt card from his daughter to make this dad all squishy inside.
In my younger years, before I became a father, but was considering the concept – as opposed to just frequently thinking about the activity that can result in the title – I thought I’d prefer to have a son.
Stereotypically male, I know.
A boy would be more fun, I reasoned. I could teach him how to cast a lure, and shoot a gun, and paddle a canoe, and pitch a tent, and make a fire, and belch really loud. We’d embark on spontaneous father-son excursions, go shopping for tools and guy-toys and other stuff we didn’t really need, and then hang out in the garage and build things.
And we’d have long conversations about the complexities of women, and the meaning of life, and the question of when desert brown camo gear is better than jungle leaf.
But, wouldn’t you know it, when the all the conceptualizing led to conception, I was dealt a daughter.
All the early-years envisioning was out the window.
Fatherhood was about to undergo reform.
Or was it?
Didn’t my wife enjoy the same things I did? OK, maybe not ashopping for tools. And nix to the belching, as well.
However, as for all the other stuff, gender had little to do with it.
And so it was, I taught my daughter how to cast a lure, and shoot a gun, and paddle a canoe, and pitch a tent, and make a fire. We shopped for tools and toys and other stuff, and we hung out in the garage and built things. We embarked on spontaneous father-daughter excursions, and happily, still do.
In the process, some adjustments had to be made, of course.
You can’t very well discuss the complexities of women with a girl who instinctively knows all the secrets.
Instead, we spent endless hours in her make-believe worlds, conjuring up stories involving favourite stuffed animals.
We curled on the couch and read, and read some more – and occasionally watched princess movies.
Fishing in the rain gave way to soccer in the rain.
And somehow, it seemed the years began to speed up.
Three turned to six, which zoomed to 10, and then flashed to teen.
Imaginary tales morphed into homework help – toothpick bridge projects, and essays about ancient civilizations.
Without any warning or pre-shock preparation, there she was in high school.
Most of dad’s teaching is done. The character is cast.
If the next few years go by as blindingly fast as the past 15, Anna is breathtakingly close to being grown.
Fatherhood will be reduced to watching from the sidelines, ready when required.
I so miss my little girl.
I am so immensely proud of my teen.
I am so glad to have experienced fatherhood, and I am so thankful I didn’t make a mess of it.
If I have any advice for men who aren’t yet celebrating Father’s Day, it’s this: Be absolutely positive that being a father is what you want. If not, don’t.
It takes a mountain of commitment and time and love to be a good dad. It’s ridiculously easy to be a lousy one.
But if you’ve made the decision you want to become a father, you are about to embark on the most important job of your life – and the most rewarding.