On Father’s Day for this Dad, who’s now in transition to becoming an empty nester, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I fathered my kids. For you new Dads or Dads-to-be, there is nothing in the world that prepares you for the hike called Fatherhood. Being a parent can be compared to a strenuous hike. There will be ups and downs, twists and turns, slippery rock hopping, swift river forging, roots, rocks, ruts, mud, bugs, bears and more. Is Fathering a day-hike? Nope. Is fathering a thru-hike? Not even close. Fathering is a lifelong hike, and the trail blazes are not marked clearly. For this journey of Fatherhood, not one trail map has ever been completely drafted.
Most of us, like me, Father in the ways that we were taught by our Dads, or other Father-figures in our lives as we grew up. I was taught that Dad’s were to be the provider, the security, the rock, the enforcer, the leader, Superman; all the things that our masculine dominated society expects, in a Tim Taylor, grunting, kind of way. My Father passed away at an early age. And it really didn’t dawn on me, until now, that I really didn’t know my Dad outside of his teachings on life. It’s now that I wonder, what did he dream about, where did he see himself in this world, did he cry, did he hurt, what was his crazy and silly desires, was he happy, would he have been proud of me? As his final years slid by between us, I find myself wondering today, why did the hugs end? Where did they all go? A question that I’ll never get the answer to.
As a Father, I’ve come to now recognize that I followed his lead, and I’m now questioning myself, “Am I a good Dad?” I only hope that my kids are as proud of me, as I am of them. I was always there for my kids when they were young, but was I really present? Or did I carelessly wish the time by, in an effort to rush them into becoming adults? I did the things my Father had done for me, I coached my kid’s sports teams, pushed them to excel in school. I was stern and strict, relentlessly encouraging them to be their best. Now I wonder, was it all too driven, too fast, too much, too quick. Was I loving enough? As I look back, I wish now that I would have fully taken more time to watch them just be kids, fully supporting them as they hiked their own hike.
It’s on this day that I’ve realized that the hugs on my part, seem to have disappeared. It’s on this day that a new awakening his risen in me to get back on the Dad trail that I’ve seemed to stray off. It’s on this day that I will Be_Dad again, as it’s never too late to live, love, and laugh more. Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there, and to all of the Dad’s to come, hiking on the Father Trail has been a gift. Be_again Dad’s, you’ve got this!