I must learn to be a father. I must learn to love like a father loves. I must pick myself up whenever I fail and continue to love like a father would. Fatherhood has bestowed on me a gift and I have to treasure it. It is a gift of life and I must learn to nurture it. I must behold this precious gift with eyes of wonders and keep it close to my heart, protecting and safeguarding it with my life. This gift is part of me and I am part of them. We are deeply connected and the sacredness of this bond is unbreakable.
I can't say that fatherhood did not warn me about its cost. I also can't say that it did not charm me with its benefits. But one thing fatherhood has forgotten to tell me was how being a father would gradually transform me. And this change in me is irreversible. It is the me I once knew being dissolved into the me I will come to know and it will be no less bewildering, sometimes even disconcerting. This is one fine print that was largely hidden from me.
But this is not a misrepresentation of parental marketing. There is no deception here. I was not duped. If given another chance, if I could rewind the clock back, I would not hesitate to do it all over again - leaving things unchanged. I would accept the same gift bestowed unquestioned. I would not choose otherwise. I would accept the gift as it was. I would make sure it was the same gift even.
And if I was granted the indulgence of just one change, it would not be a change of the gift itself but a change of myself. As I would know how I had failed as a father, I would plug those holes up. All my missteps and mistakes would be avoided. No doubt I would still fail, but at least I would be better with the benefit of hindsight or the providence of a second chance. But alas, I am only given one shot at parenthood and I am never to forget that. Time past is time lost.
So, I am still learning the discipline of fatherhood. And this is going to be a long skinned-knee journey. I will soon realize that being a father will bring out the best and the worse in me. I will see a side of me that I have not seen before. I will experience the highs and the lows. I will both succeed and fail along the way and be proud and ashamed of my actions and inaction. Everyday is going to be a discovery of the pleasantness and the ugliness in me. I may be discouraged or encouraged by it. I may be scared or be inspired by it.
Where patience is concerned, I will be duly tested. My offspring will not let me off on this one. They will push me to the limit. They will be the litmus test of my character. They will see my hypocrisy acted out in full technic colors with surround sound experiences. I will be their open book. I will not be able to hide anything from them.
My anger may consume me. I may act out of character. My pride may get the better of me. I may flesh it out unmitigated. Even my vanity may want some air time and I may be self-basking for longer than is necessary. My offspring will make sure they give my frail humanity a run for its money. This is the price tag of fatherhood. This is what it will take and much more awaits ahead. It is the sacrifice of a lifetime and it takes a lifetime.
But learn I shall nevertheless because if there is one transformation about being a father that is most rewarding, it is the transformation of being a better person, a better human. This journey is unrelenting and yet unrelentingly gratifying. This is the holy grail of fatherhood. It is the coveted transformation that supersedes any forewarning necessary. It is the fine print that is the best thing. It is the hidden cost that yields the best payback in the long run. It is what makes everything worth the time and the effort. My imperfections in exchange for just a glimpse of the perfection is what fatherhood aims to offer.
Sure it will take much out of me but it will also put much back. And it will always be a one-sided bargain because what I get out of it will infinitely be more enduring and valuable than what I stand to lose. The polished virtues gained after the furnace of lifelong fatherhood is therefore the prize of the sacrifice. And what a prize it will be!
So, I must learn to be a father. I must learn to love like a father loves. And where I fail is where I will learn even more. The failures are the guideposts of fatherhood and not its potholes. They point me to what is redeemable in me and not to what is irredeemable. In other words, I am better for it and not worse. And for that, I am always grateful. I am grateful every time they come to me and call me daddy. Because I know what an honor that casual address is. It is therefore a privilege to be a father because the bestowed gift of fatherhood is indeed priceless. Cheerz.