Thursday, June 14, 2012

More Like Atticus Less Like Homer

The Internet is full of mommy bloggers and even quite a few special needs mommy bloggers.  They do a great job sharing their perspectives on the joys of parenting and motherhood.  But a lot of days I feel like quite a rare bird: A special needs daddy blogger.  And with Fathers Day approaching (here in the US) it's caused me to reflect a little bit about fatherhood and what it means to me.

In our society's popular culture, fathers are often played for laughs.  Homer Simpson is the animated archetype of this type of dad: Clueless but well intentioned.  Other times, fathers are portrayed as simply absent or at least mostly disconnected from their families.  Like the distant divorced dad or the workaholic with a phone to one ear and a bluetooth headset in the other.  "Not now son, I'm busy."

I've only been a father for a bit over eight years now.  So I'm not an expert on the subject.  But I try to take a more engaged and informed approach than what we see on TV.   I honestly think most dads do.  I take the responsibility seriously.  I feel like I have more to contribute to my family's well being than just bringing home the bacon and holding the remote control.  (Although I do those things too.)  I like to know what's going on in my children's lives and participate in the things that they deem important.  I help build sand castles in the sand box or push the kids on the swing set.  I love to tell them bedtime stories or read something by Dr Seuss before tucking them in for the night.  I don't have these opportunities every day, but I try to take time when I can.

I do all of those things because I believe that fatherhood is a gift, a sacred opportunity.  One that I don't believe should be squandered.  Children, if you're blessed to have them at all, are only little for a while.   Then they're grown and gone.  I'm only going to get one chance at things.  I mess up a lot but I hope I can end up more like Atticus Finch than hapless Homer.

I'll admit, being a father, especially a special needs father, is a challenge.  It's not even been a day since I last helped to clean up smeared poop.  Seems like there's always a medical bill in the mail.  And I still have to put anything I care about on top of the refrigerator.  (Where am I going to set my phone when she gets taller?) But the kisses, the hugs and the excited greetings after a long day at work make it all worth it.  Whenever Whitney shows off her walking skills, or writes her name or reads me a book, I reflect on all the adventures we've been through together and I'm glad to be her dad.


Melanie said...

And your the best Dad too!

Genevieve Ross said...

totally agree with what you said. I mean, these kids are going to kill me one day- they are completely exhausting, desructive and expensive, but they are exactly as I want them and life would never be as same, or as good, without them. everytime one of them punches me in the face (accidentally, of course) or eats a handful of sand I feel so lucky they are mine. It's a grand life, if you don't weaken, as my Grandfather used to say, and he lived to be 98 so he should know.

Genevieve Ross said...

That last comment was by Gavin- he forgot to sign me out!

Nate said...

Thanks, you guys! By the way living to 98 sounds pretty good. Especially with a life as good as I've been given. :-)

Heather Thorup said...

I think it's awesome to read a dad's perspective it is really unique. I appreciate it. I think it's great to keep involved I try to get Chris to read up on stuff as much as me. I have noticed that a lot of Dads seem so much more involved than the mid 90s. They feed the kids, change their diapers and help with them after work. A lot even cook too! (mine included) Fatherhood is to be treasured and you are a great example of that!

Nate said...

Thanks, Heather! You're too kind. Hope your family is doing well. I love reading about Carter and all his great progress. You guys are doing great with that little man!