I was upstairs working away last night when I heard a whimper. A faint whine which I recognised to be my son’s. Now I knew Alex was downstairs whilst Natalie was doing housework, so I ignored it and carried on working, she’d be able to handle whatever it was that he was wanting. It was my time to play with Alex, but he was unwell today and I assumed he’d have been happier watching YouTube than having his big smelly dad around him. Anyway, as I went downstairs to see if he wanted to play before he went to bed he’d already fallen asleep. By now mum had finished her work and gone to sit down on the bed. Alex was downstairs, fast asleep. He was unwell yesterday and spent most of the day on the sofa, albeit the hour I took him out to the Doctors.
When I woke Alex up he still wanted to play with me. Even although his little eyes were hooded and half shut, and his legs could barely hold him in his waking sleep; he still insisted that I spend twenty minutes with him to play. We didn’t in the end. He was unwell and it was more important that he slept. Apparently he had been waiting for half an hour for me to come down to have a game of football on the Xbox with him before he couldn’t stay awake anymore.
This got me thinking. He needed me last night. He wanted my company. He sought comfort with me in his unwell state. He didn’t want mum, he’d been playing with her all day, he wanted me. This isn’t the only time he seeks comfort in me, like today for example. As a make up I spent at least an hour and a half with him playing at whatever he wanted to, to make up for the time that I missed last night. Not the best solution, but a solution nonetheless. He loved every minute of it; my time, that I had reserved for just him and I, and it got me on to thinking how important that is.
I remember before the alcohol took my dad and he would take me down to his place for a visit. I could remember the excitement I would feel at being in the presence of my dad, the times when he shared his freedom with me, and the knowledge that he would impart on me. He wasn’t always a disaster, my dad. I can remember when I had his work phone number and I was allowed to call him anytime that I wanted to. I’d ring my dad up; a man that ran teams of thousands of people; a man that had to tell me to ring back because he was in the middle of something SUPER important. Yeah, that filled me with pride and a sense of destination. I wanted to be just like my dad. Successful and rich.
I also remember when my friends dads would go places with their sons and I, and the overwhelming sense of safety I’d feel. Let’s not mistake this — this was a raw feeling of safety that I hadn’t felt before. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with my close friends before, but in the presence of their dads I felt safe. I didn’t feel safe in the presence of my own dad because he was never reliable. Of course it wasn’t his fault because he always had to rush off to some emergency somewhere and leave me with one of his random friends he picked up at the time, but that was the price he paid for the choices that he made in life.
This is what Dads do. Provide safety and pride in our kids. We give them someone to look up to; we give them a role model to aspire to. Our children model their lives on what we become whether we like it or not. I could tell my son not to treat women with disrespect until I’m blue in the face but if I’m actively abusing my wife in front of Alex then he’ll never learn how to respect women. This is the way it works in life. My dad had many negative traits which I succumbed to before I had to strip myself down and then build myself back up again.
I’m questioning myself again. I’m questioning if we fully understand the importance of the male role in fatherhood? I’m not saying it’s more or less important than a woman’s role because I believe that both are beautifully interlinked and compliment one another. I remember having a discussion with a co-worker a few years back over boys and their mums and nature versus nurture. She told me that her son will always come to her when he’s unwell and its obviously nature, but then my son comes to whoever is nearer because we’ve taught him to do that so it’s nurture. We couldn’t agree. But my example just shows that special relationships with parents can be nurtured.
I run a really tight ship in this house. I’m brutally honest, I never lie, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, and I try to help whomever whenever I can (I swear shitloads, though); I want Alex to grow up with these values and you can already see him incorporating these. I lead by example; I falter sometimes but I definitely try and correct myself. I want him to grow up just as proud of me as I was of my dad before he went off the rails. I want to be someone that my son aspires to be because I think it’s a pretty damn good example I’m setting for him. Maybe he can tweak a few things and add his own brand of awesomeness to it.
I’m asking this to you guys now. Are you setting a good example? Are you someone that you’d like your kid to turn into? Because they’re definitely going to turn into you. How important do you see your role in the family and after reading this what would you change, if at all? Hell, shoot me some advice too, I’m still learning myself 🙂