When my children were born, I experienced two powerful but conflicting emotions – love and fear. Instinctively and immediately, I knew I loved these two tiny humans, but this love appeared not just for now, it was also forever.
How was this possible? I thought. My mind tried to find a circumstance where I would not love or love them less – but it could not. It seemed that I had already surrendered to this emotion and even before I had experienced it. My love for them felt timeless and unconditional?
The responsibility began to dawn. I was a flawed human and the world could be cruel. Would my best be good enough? I would surely let them down. I would make mistakes. They would make mistakes. How could I continue to love them like this? It was impossible, but why was my heart so certain?
The first time, my son or daughter called me “daddy”, it took my breath away. It was so natural to them but it also represented my greatest privilege and challenge. “Do I deserve this?” I asked. Again I was conflicted. Each and every day since and often in new and unexpected ways, my children continue to take my breath away. They do this by just being children. It is ordinary but it is extraordinary.
They remind of my own childhood, the joy of play, discovering something new or the love I have for my own parents. Yes, I’ve learned to change a nappy or two or put them to bed but it seems to me that they have more to teach me than I do them. In essence, they’ve put the wonder back into my world. I recently told my mother “I love you”. I hadn’t done so in a long time. Now, my “what’s important” has changed and “my heart goes out” more often.
The last years have been challenging for me. At one level, my children arrived at the worst time and becoming their “Daddy” initially seemed like the biggest challenge, on top of many others. But now, I see that my world and children conspired, and my life afforded me an opportunity to be, more, with them. Maybe that was because I had more to learn than most but together, they took a fearful man and made him realise, that, he already had everything! I am no longer conflicted.
James and Maggie, thank you for all that you have taught me so far and I can’t wait for what else you might have in store. You are precious and through you, my hours, minutes, seconds and life have become precious.
I don’t know what the future holds. I will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. There will be good times and there will be bad times. I promise that I will do my best to become the dad you deserve but I can only offer you one certainty. I will love you, always and unconditionally.
Over to you now. What’s your experience of fatherhood? Tell us in the comments below.