Monday, January 11, 2010
I fantasized him as becoming a cross of G.I. Joe, all the Marvel Super Heroes combined, a Heisman trophy winning athlete, and wise as Einstein, smooth as the leading men of Hollywood, and humble at heart. I had my work cut out for me. All these qualities to make the perfect son, one I and others would revere and be proud of. Who was this tall order for; me, or him? Having not even given him a chance to become, to create an identity of his own to embellish, to embrace his “self”; who was I, even as a father to place this burden upon either of us?
His birthday was mine as well.
I realized upon his arrival and the many days since, that too much time can be spent on becoming as opposed to being. My son has taught me many times in his short life some of the greatest lessons; lessons of presence, honesty, letting go, releasing emotion, and expressing it as well. I was born into a new way of thinking the day my son arrived. My life was mine, his is his, and we walk this road together. I can best coax out of him what I wish to see in him, through my example.
Not only am I able to teach him in a “do as I say and not as I do” method, but it is that approach that I too get a chance to take a personal inventory of where I need restoration. It is the confused eyes cast up at me when I do not practice what I preach that allow me to realign, and also practice the art of making amends, humility, and accountability. Patience also comes to mind frequently. Indirectly he teaches me a great deal.
I see now that I could care less about what “activities” my son participates in. What a man does is not who he is. Should he choose sports, great! Should he choose art, fabulous! Should he become academic, I am still proud. I will support any noble endeavor he wishes to steep himself in. Love does not need to be justified with excellence achieved in an activity. He has mine regardless and he should never feel he must achieve certain benchmarks to “deserve” it.
What my focus must be as father is the principles a man must fill himself with to become prosperous and successful in life’s journey. I will leave the sports up to coaches, but reinforce camaraderie, teamwork, and goal setting. (I can still toss the ball in the backyard though.) In finding companionship and love, I will try to instill in him the things that make us worthy of another’s affections such as respect, compassion, and honesty. In business and work, I will share with him the weight of integrity, honor, and character. In sharing this with him, I too have to pay attention; I go back to school with him.
I look to my son not as a second chance. I see him not as my student per se. I see him as an individual I can teach a lot to as much as learn from. I have learned a lot about life from living through the perspective and wonder of a child. He will mirror back that which he sees in the men in his life. I can pass on what was taught to me by my fathers. I can also fill in the gaps.
Every birthday my son has, I get one too. I can celebrate who I became as a result of his arrival, and in turn, I think that awakening makes me a better father. Fathering a son is give and take. He learns how to be a man by the men that love him and how they show that love. As a father I get the gift of another chance of not making my son what I wish I was, but to experience the joys of youth all over again, just with better technology.
Happy birthday to my son, my raison d’être, and in the back of my mind, I celebrate my second "birthday" as well.