I’ve always had a good relationship with my dad in spite of our differences. I was never good at the sports he loved and I messed up his home repairs more than I helped. Despite those things, I never doubted that he would be there for me, that he loved me, and that he would always help me however he could. He’s yet to do anything to let me down.
If you’ve ever read any of my blog posts before, you know that I can get pretty obsessed with TV. It’s not that I spend an exorbitant amount of time watching it. It’s just that I’ve always loved writing and over the past few years I’ve realized that I really want to be a screenwriter. I’ve always greatly admired television as an art form; when I find a show that really moves me I often have a hard time getting it out of my head because it inspires me so much. I bring this up because I’ve always found it curious that in spite of the great relationship I had with my dad, quite a few of the TV moments that hit me hardest deal with fatherhood.
Hell, when my girlfriend and I watched Fringe I couldn’t stop myself from sadly saying after every episode, “I can’t believe all of this happened because a man was willing to risk the entire world to save his son.”
“You are my favorite thing, Peter.”
Obviously I don’t directly relate to scenes like the ones above, where a son has to deal with a father who didn’t care for him or wasn’t there while he grew up. But the more I consider the reason why moments like these utterly ruin me, the more I think it’s because I’m becoming more concerned of what kind of dad I’ll make.
I hate to admit it, but I’m twenty-four years old. High school still seems like it was just yesterday half the time, but the reality is tons of my friends have careers and families by now. I’m running out of time when I can spend my spare afternoons sitting in my dorm, watching cartoons, and working on writing projects which may or may never pan out. A year and a half from now I’m going to be done vet school. All my time will be spent with a career, living with my girlfriend, and preparing for our wedding and having kids.
When two people are this attractive they have a duty to procreate.
That last part scares me more than anything else, and it’s not because I don’t want to have children. I love kids…heck, I’m basically a giant one myself.
My last 4 Amazon purchases were for cartoon posters.
Yes, I’m more than a little concerned about getting 2 hours of sleep a night for the first few months of our children’s lives. (I still maintain that babies are rude and ignorant, albeit adorable.) But what mostly freaks me out is knowing all that it takes to be a good father and wondering if I’m up to the task.
As I said, I never had to grow up without a dad, so I can only imagine how horrible that must be. But I remember how important it was as a kid to have a father; someone who would play catch me on the weekends, take me to the driving range, and help me figure out what growing up was all about. If I didn’t have that, I would have been devastated. I never want to put my child through that. I also have a few female friends who are mothers and have no support from their kids’ fathers. I’ve seen how hard it is on them and I never, ever want to do that to Louise.
What frightens me most about that is that I can sit here all high and mighty, saying that I’m a good person and would never do that to my wife or child, but how can I know for sure how I’ll act when the time comes?
Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic. I consider myself a decent person, so I do strongly doubt I would ever just abandon my family. But there are still so many things I need to know, so many things I can screw up, about having kids. For me, I especially think this is true about having a son.
Clearly I already have a handle on raising girls.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a daughter one day. But having been a boy and having dealt with the father / son relationship myself, I worry mostly about screwing that up; I’ve experienced firsthand how important it is. I understand what a tremendous gift having a son is and I want to do everything I can to honor that when the time comes.
“I could live a million years & I could spend every minute of it doing important things. But at the end of it all, I would have only lived half a life if I had not raised a son.”
It’s just that it seems so hard to do it right. To me, there are so many conflicting things we have to teach our sons. They should know how to fight and be prepared to defend others, but they must know that violence is wrong. They should be chivalrous while treating women equally. They must be sensitive but still be manly.
Then, of course, there’s all the other issues of raising a child that apply to both genders. When is the right age I should let them walk around town on their own; I want them to live a rich childhood while simultaneously protecting them. How much should I do for them; I want them to know they can rely on me while letting them learn things themselves. For years I’ve told Louise my motto for when we have kids.
“A parent should guide their child, let them stumble, and pick them up when they fall.”
That’s easy to say, but it just seems so hard to get it all right.
Yet for all my worries and insecurities, I still can’t wait to be a dad. Even a few short years ago I was terrified about that kind of commitment, of knowing that my entire life would change until the day I die. And yeah, that thought still terrifies me. But the older I get, the more I know I want to be a father. I want to start a family with the woman I love, bring new life into this world, and guide them from a blank slate into someone they can be proud of and who can help make this world a better place.
I’ve already warned Louise that I am going to be a complete and utter mess when our child is born. After all, I am not exactly what you call a manly man. The As Told by Ginger finale reduced me to hysterics. I was 23 when I saw that.
You mean Ginger and Darren got back together and had a baby? That’s all I ever wanted! Why does it have to be over?!
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
So yeah, I’m going to be a wreck when I first meet my child. And I’m sure that I won’t be perfect. But I will love that kid more than I’ve ever loved anything, because I know how amazing it was to be loved that way by my father. I know that everything will change that day, and I have a pretty good idea of exactly what I’m going to say to whoever I hold in my arms.
Until then, I’ll keep growing myself and get ready to be the best father I can be.