Each title links to different aspects of my identity through the journey of my life. None, though, seems to carry the weight of Daddy. “When I get bigger I’m going to be a daddy just like daddy”, my four year old son Jude explained to his two year old sister at the dinner table. I could feel a familiar weight in my chest- similar to the feeling before a major job interview or while waiting for my bride to walk the aisle. The weight serves as a reminder of the great responsibility entrusted to me. I’m joyfully in over my head.
Jude does not understand all the layers to the statement he’s made, but I’m beginning to. I see some of myself in him already. How much is nature or nurture, I’m not completely certain. Images of me appear in his mannerisms, his humor, his anger, his attitudes, and his joys- sometimes for the better and sometimes not. I’m constantly reminded that the words I speak to him, the time I spend with him, and the values I model for him will play a major role in his capacity to move forward through this life with a strong sense of trust, initiative, integrity, and identity. My big boy buddy will look to me to understand what it means to be a boy, a husband, a father, a man. I hope he does not have to look elsewhere. I cannot afford to drop the ball.
I also feel this weight with Wren- Daddy’s pretty little girl. Her mom provides the ultimate model of what a woman, a wife, and a mom can be, but this makes my role no less vital. The words I speak to her, the time I spend with her, and the values I model for her will tell her so much about her value as a woman and increase her capacity to move with confidence in this world. By the way I treat her and her mother now, she will know how other men should regard her in the future. If she ever needs a reminder of her worth, I hope she will see the love in her Daddy’s eyes and feel the strength of his hug to know she is worth all the world and more.
Older parents often remind me that these days pass quickly. Today I am their protector and provider, their leader and foundation layer. One day these two children will grow up and walk alongside me and their mother as adults. If we live long enough, the roles will be reversed, and they will become protector and provider to us. I want to enjoy every moment of being their Daddy- biking with Jude, Daddy-dates with Wren, family expeditions, scraped knees, broken hearts, big dreams, and tough challenges. It’s a weight I’m blessed to carry.
This post was originally written for the Burlington, Vermont Mom’s Blog.