Saturday, October 1, 2011

On Fatherhood

I'm no expert on fatherhood, but I do know that more of it is sorely needed in this world today.  Whatever it is, its role in true masculinity has always been something I've been drawn to which might also explain my longtime enjoyment of Daddy blogs.  It probably also explains my excitement to be a first time dad.

I have no idea what kind of father I'll be, but off the top, I hope that I'll strike a good balance between discipline and extravagance.  I probably fall more to the disciplinarian side, but I definitely have an aversion to the Chinese style of always pushing your children to be better, to improve, and rarely, if ever, telling them you love them and are proud of them (oh, and hugging them too).  I definitely have some ideas about what was amazing about my own father, but also some where I felt like he came up short. The crazy thing is that no matter what, I'm gonna come up short as well, we all do, and that terrifies the heck out of me.  Because of my desire to be perfect.  So I can win the admiration of those around me. At the root, it's probably that of my parents.  There's some recursion for you.

At a recent doctor's appointment, the nurse practitioner greeted my wife in a way that really stuck with me.  She asked,

"Are you ready to fall in love?"

My wife and I have been busy preparing the nursery, reading up on birthing and baby theories, getting excited and freaked out at the same time wondering how our lives are going to change.  I totally hadn't considered this hormonal and emotional change that is imminent (probably days away).  Hm...that's right because I know that as soon as I see my baby girl, my heart is going to melt in a way that will blow my mind.  It's weird living my life knowing that "love at first sight" is going to happen at any time now.  Imagine being single with that kind of expectation.  Sheesh.

But what's even more crazy is that no matter what our baby looks like (wrinkled, God-forbid nine toes, conehead, etc), I don't think I'm even going to notice with all the love that will be surging through me.  My spiritual director used a better word - I will "delight" in her.  Unbelievably, that's the way that God sees me too.  Why I tend to be more fearful of a withering glance from Him is the struggle of my life, and it's hard to wrap my mind around how God can see past the sin.

I haven't really paid attention to which Person of the Trinity I tend to pray to, but, at my spiritual director's nudge, God, the Father, is all of a sudden, a lot more relatable.  He told me a light-hearted story of a fellow older Jesuit who joked how recently, he's prayed less to Jesus and more to God because frankly, Jesus, in his human nature, was just too young.  I haven't been as voracious of a reader as I thought I would be about childbirth and child-rearing and I think a big part of that is because of how many theories and ideas that are out there and an inherent distrust in the wisdom behind it.  Now it's like, oh yeah, I've been asking for wisdom my whole life, so Father and Wisdom, teach me.

St. Joseph is also my new homie having likely coached Mary through the birth of Jesus - the innkeeper's wife was probably not very helpful.  I'm not terribly excited about the helpless feeling I'll have of not being able to take away my wife's labor pangs and so I could definitely use some guidance in the redemptive quality of suffering and empathy.  Here's to hoping that my male empathy goes further than just feeling it too when some other dude gets hit in the nuts.

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