Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Being a Father

There was a time. In my youth. When I was confident and stood boldly in front of the fear and tyranny of longevity. And I stared down death. Without wincing. And proclaimed my superiority. Because I felt as If I had accomplished enough. I can still hear the the immaturity and naivete in my voice...If I were to die it would be OK.

And then I got married. And all of the sudden there was this other being. Who I depended on....who depended on me. And I was no longer so loose with my own mortality. For death then became an enemy. Not a raving lunatic scratching at your front door but more the lurking phantom in poorly lit allies and quiet corridors. And yet I still heard that calming voice....If I were to die today...If she were to die....things would be OK.

And then I had children. And I spent countless nights awake worrying...and holding...and comforting. These children, a product of my own creation, grew and flowered before my eyes. They developed souls and personalities. We laughed together...they jumped into my arms when they were hurt.

And I felt content. Or at least for a moment. Until the specter of death reared its ugly head again. Not as a concrete concept but more of an abstract. A what if. My previously conquered opponent was back and had a new weapon. My Achilles heal.

Those sweet beautiful children. My life's work wrapped into those little needy hands and feet. How can I now live in a world that could threaten them..that could threaten me. Because when you have children you are turned inside out. You expose yourself to the barest most sensitive parts. A million nerve endings clumped together into the small space of a fingertip.

My confidence is gone. My acceptance of life's trivialities and foibles and the fecundity of mortality have overwhelmed me. I am despondent. Torn between the utter joy and uncontrollable fear of being a father. If I my father did....It is no longer OK. And if something were to happen to my children......

See that's the thing about becoming a parent. You give up everything. your heart...your soul.

I will never be completely at peace again.

And in my new new reality

That...that is what has become OK.

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