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Fatherhood

This could also be titled parenthood, but as a father I decided to go with fatherhood. So regardless of your gender I hope this is meaningful to you.

I guess it was a combination of factors that caused this point to be hit home this evening. It is something that I know I have experienced more then once in the almost seven years I have been a father. (Hard to believe it has been that long!)

I just finished reading the latest from Motherhood is Not For Wimps, and discussing it with Dawn. I was in laying on the bed playing with my children. My daughter rolled off the bed and landed on the floor. In doing so she bit her tongue really bad and it started bleeding. My reaction was to hold her close and comfort her while my oldest went to chase down a wet rag. I knew that she was bleeding and that it was getting on my clothes, but I dismissed it. She of course is fine. It wasn’t but a few minutes later and we were both giggling at each other again. She has an amazing smile.

I realized later that we both got some blood on our clothes in the process. I was a little concerned about her clothes, but less so about mine. Then it hit me.

When I was much younger (5th or 6th grade I think) my family was out hiking one day. My younger sister slipped and cut her head really bad (I don’t think she ended up getting stitches, but not sure). Since we were out away from anywhere she could get any attention my father grabbed her and carried her down to our vehicle where she could be cared for.

Someone who was with us pointed out that he was getting blood on his nice new, light colored, suede jacket. He said he knew that, but what else could he do. When we got to our vehicle she got cleaned up and ended up being fine.

My Dad’s jacket on the other hand was ruined. Now I always considered my Dad a smart fellow, but I was puzzled that he couldn’t come up with a way to protect his jacket and still get my sister down the mountain. He could have just taken it off and tied it around his waist, letting her bleed on his shirt. Or maybe he could have held her different so that he didn’t get any blood on him at all. Any of these actions would have just taken a split second, and not really effected the speed at which my sister would have received first-aid.

Tonight I finally understood. Granted I was just wearing an old T-Shirt, not a nice new suede jacket, and my T-Shirt will most likely come clean, but now I understand. When you are a father or parent, and one of your children needs your attention, you give it without any thought of yourself, your comfort, your belongings or your safety. It is a truly selfless action.

That is why they make such a big deal on the air planes about putting the oxygen mask on yourself before on your children, because no good parent would put themselves before their children. Of course it is important that we realize that if we pass out we will be unable to put the masks on our children.

So why did I finally get this now? It might be because I was just discussing with Dawn about how you loose yourself in parenthood and do whatever it takes. It also might have to do with the wonderful two weeks I spent at Enlightened Warrior Training Camp (the first week learning and the second week serving and learning), and the changes that brought it my life. Whatever the reason I am glad I finally learned this lesson and understand what I already knew.

Thanks Dad!

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    It is interesting that you chose to send me this story. IT almost makes me cry. Believe it or not, this is one of my fondest memories of him.

    Since when I actually fell we were alone on the top of the mountain, I was the one who told Dad his jacket was being ruined as he carried me down. What he said was that I was more important than his jacket. You and I both know that we rarely had nice things growing up and that there was even more care to be taken around something nice for Dad’s (this was something Mom impressed on us). At the time, being told I was more important that a jacket was better than being told that he loved me — I was being shown that he did.

    Thanks for sharing this with me.

    Amanda (I don’t have a Blog account that’s why I’m posting anonymous)

  2. Elizabeth

    It’s a belated comment, for which I’m sorry. I read this weeks ago and meant to reply when I had time to be thoughtful. — an indication, I suppose, of how rarely I get such time.

    Both the post and the comment that followed say so much about what it means to be a parent.

    I remember the first time I looked at Mary feeling the predictable overhwleming joy — and that it rode in on a crest of sadness. For the first time in my life I was completely and utterly vulnerable. I knew that if anything ever happened to her I could never be okay again. Who cares about your damn jacket when your kid is bleeding? Who cares about ANYTHING when your kid is bleeding? If your kid isn’t okay, you’re not okay. How terrifying that two years of this has exhausted me and God willing, I have a lifetime of it ahead. She’ll be seventy and I still won’t be okay if she isn’t okay.

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