Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Being a Father: Two Years Later

Toddler son staring at camera

Although the first year of fatherhood was very interesting and rewarding, the second year has been much more beautiful. The difference is that nowadays my son is not only acknowledging my presence, but is actively looking for me and enjoys being around me. We have already our own unique and bonding activities, such as “shaving” and “doing the laundry,” which happen, at his own insistence, at the exclusion of his mother.

I am told that sons begin to identify more with their father at this point and turn him into their personal hero. I remember talking to some of the kids I was teaching, and they often mention that they look up to their father. This paternal admiration fills me with a cocktail of emotions, ranging from pride, love, satisfaction, and dread.

Yes, dread because there is often, if not always, in the back of my mind the fear of not delivering, of not living up to the standards of my son. And I know that once the teenage period kicks in, I will have to be at my best and strongest to deal with some of those burning accusations of his acute and imaginative mind!

At the same time, it fills me with anger to see how so many fathers out there let down their own children. Whether it is on purpose or as an unwanted consequence, they hurt their kids and leave long-lasting deep scars in the psyche of these fragile beings. Fatherhood, more than anything, comes with great responsibility, and one needs to be aware of it, whether one likes it or not.

I am also aware personally that the fate and plight of children affects me much more now than in the past. I have to admit that certain commercials involving desolate children or movies depicting a father-son relationship affect me more than ever. It is my sentimental spot, but it is mostly because having a child myself has opened a new gate, suddenly and automatically, a new way of seeing and understanding the world.

Nothing to me is more rewarding at the end of a day of work than arriving at my apartment, opening the door and hear my son screaming “papa” and running towards the door to greet me. I see his glowing face and for a moment all tired feelings have lifted from me and all my efforts for his well-being are worth that single moment in time.

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