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.