Sunday, June 17, 2012

State of the Father

“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

No, I'm not claiming to be the President of the United States, nor am I egotistical enough to claim that my rantings and ramblings have importance approaching on the State of the Union address, but on the day for fathers, it seems somehow appropriate to make a few remarks about fatherhood and just what it means to me.

Four years and 9 months ago, the doctor brought forth a new kid, conceived (most likely) in Tokyo and dedicated to the ideal that he should drive his parents nuts. 

Er... Sorry.

Any case, almost 5 years ago I was presented with a son, Makoto. Needless to say that generated a feeling somewhat akin to the repeated application of a 2x4 to the back of my skull. I still remember holding Makoto for the very first time and seeing him busy looking around, obviously interested in this new place and... not feeling love.


It might be true that mothers are hardwired into being attached to their babies, but I had to work at it. Don't get me wrong, I was very much interested in the baby I now had, but I want to say that it took me about three months or so to hit the stage where I would willing throw myself under a bus if it meant saving him. I think that was a major shock to the system because I wanted to love my son. I wanted to be a father. I never really had one after all. Dad died when I was quite young as I mentioned before and I missed all those things that various Hollywood movies, novels, or friends noted about their dads. I wanted to experience them, if from the other end.

More than that, I looked forward to teaching and guiding my son has he grew up, I thought that it should be fairly simple, not to mention somewhat fun...

I can hear you snickering right now.

Instead, I had a baby. even worse, the hospital let us out of there without a bloody instruction manual! Very rude, how was one to deal with an infant who didn't respond to anything beyond hunger? How can any sane man make sense of these bottles and formula, and kids clothing that seems to have been designed by someone heavily into bondage, given all the snaps that needed to be fastened? Lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of time with wife that didn't involve a baby getting into everything, or becoming not only the center of conversation, but the only topic thereof!

And don't get me started on the 'surprises' we'd find in the diapers.

I don't know when it changed, really. But slowly I did change from man who has a son to Daddy. My worldview changed along with it from concerns about teaching and whatnot to concerns about children. I cannot tell you when it happened, but I can tell you when I noticed it. 

We were flying back to the US, it would be Makoto's first (and so far only) trip back to the land that spawned me (Please don't hold that against the US) at around 10 months. Over the Pacific, with Beloved and Makoto sleeping, I was busy reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel, Thud!. The plot of the novel isn't that important, but there was a scene where the main character returns home to find that his house has been invaded by people intent on harming him and his family, and even worse, one of them had made it up to the nursery where his young son slept. During this scene, the main character feels that he is climbing endless stairs, trying to get to his screaming son all the while screaming "I'LLKILLYOU!"

Now I had read the book before and enjoyed it a lot, this time it made my blood run cold. I could picture the scene in my mind, only it was Makoto who was screaming and I was the one in panic and more than willing to do anything to keep my son, my son safe.

That was when I knew that I was Daddy.

I've noted since then that the closest that I will ever come to knowing how Superman feels is the look I see in my sons' eyes. To them, I can do anything and know no fear.

They do not know, yet, just how much fear I feel for them, and how willing I am to throw myself into my fears just to keep them safe, happy, and healthy.

Loaded diapers and everything.

The state of the father is good, and on this day when I wasn't presented with breakfast, a choice of meals, or anything beyond a pass to the local park so Beloved can get her children out of her hair... I ended up with the best gift of all, my sons.

Happy Father's Day.

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