When I was only a few months old, my dad left me and my mom.
It’s weird to think about now that I’m older–and I’m sorry six-year-old me if I’m wrong–but I never remember it bothering me much; I don’t even remember caring. And maybe that seems a little callous and empty, and maybe you’d be right, but I’ve never thought that–I don’t think I’m wrong–here’s the reason why:
A father is, by definition, this:
A father and a dad are two different things, but the best become both. My dad is my dad because I’m half him, but he left before he was a father. And the men in my life–my brother and camp counselors, the teachers I had and plenty of others–though they weren’t my dad, filled in the father role better than I could ask for, so I never felt I was lacking.
But in the past year or two, I graduated college and moved somewhat silently into adulthood, and in front of me was set the reality that I would soon have a family of my own. I struggle a little more because of that: with my dad, with growing up, with who I’ll be as a father one day, and where I’ll go from there. I wonder what my children will think of me. I wonder if I’ll love them like I should.
And the reality is, by my thinking about those things, I’m already in the positive. I’m doing better than plenty of others who’ve become dads simply for wanting to be better. It’s strange in that way, but it really is true; you just have to want to care.
Do I really, genuinely worry about these things? Does it keep me up at night? No. But sometimes I wonder–I just can’t help it; it comes with the situation.
So when Abbie (my girlfriend) and I decided to adopt a puppy, those “wonders” became something more. I became afraid of the impact I’d have on his life and whether he’d love and respect me. I wondered at every look, every outburst, every time he just sat there if there was something I could have done better.
And with him, it was different than a typical baby; the obvious first way was that he is a puppy. But where parents, often times, are given some time to prepare for a baby before it comes, time that teaches them that they really were never prepared to begin with, and “why oh why did we do this to ourselves”–we weren’t given that luxury.
Over a weekend my life changed course and adopted a new role upon itself.
And while, no, I’m not a parent to a child, and a puppy is a far cry from that experience–I’ve felt for the first time like a father to something, and it makes me feel wonderful.
So this is the fur baby; his name is Flynn. And this blog will be seeing more of him.
(photo credit: Abbie Robinson)