You tried to be a good father.
You were there when your child was born, you held your wife’s hand as she screamed when the pain became unbearable or you paced and prayed outside the birthing room because the person delivering the baby did not want you in the delivery room. You cried when you saw your child for the first time and exclaimed that the child was the most beautiful in the world. And even if you weren’t there for any of this, you made sure that someone was there and that your better half was not alone.
You helped changed diapers and were there during feeding times and protected your partner’s dignity when she had to feed the baby in public as the baby had been crying for too long and a bottle just wouldn’t cut it. You were there for the first crawl and the first tooth and the first steps and were prouder when baby’s first words were “dada”. And although you did not get paternity leave, you made sure that mama and baby did not feel that you were gone.
You started with cradling your child to sleep, then it was rocking, then you started reading to them. You would hold them and kiss them good night before they slept and would soothe any nightmares that prevented them from sleeping peacefully. Your bed was a safe haven for many a weary soul and your arms are big enough for any type of hug.
You were there for every first day of school- from crèche to kindergarten to big school. You even helped make lunch the night before. You did the school run when you had time and tried as hard possible to make it for all your child’s events. The teachers at each school knew you and so did some of the other parents. You clapped the loudest when your child had a recital or a show or a game and everyone knew that your child was the most beautiful, the most talented and the kindest child in the world. And even the times when your child needed to be disciplined and it hurt you to do so, you made sure that the deed was done in love- whatever method you decided to use.
You taught your child life and love and kindness. You taught your child that education was the best gift that they could receive and that a life of ignorance was the same as slavery. You taught them to believe in and love themselves and to realise that while we are all fallen, the Lord has given us a little good in us and to always look for that good in each other. You taught your child to love and respect God and to seek and search for wisdom in all that they say and do. You taught your child the value of hard work and perseverance and that once you fall, you need to pick yourself up and move on. You taught your child the value of peace, honour and integrity and that a good name is better than rubies. And even if you didn’t practice all of this or believe half of it, you still made sure that your child learnt them.
You were there during the teenage years with the rebellion and the fights and even the beatings and you have the scars to prove it. Your shoulders were broad enough to handle all the tears and you always had a soothing word to give even if you didn’t understand half of what your child was saying. You tried not to push too hard though sometimes you did and you wondered whether your child would forgive you. Don’t worry they will- eventually.
More children came. You tried to treat all your children the same, even though it was difficult sometimes as one child gave you more of a headache than the others. You tried not to let it show. And when it did, you apologized and tried to do better. With the arrival of more children meant a -greater financial burden and you had many sleepless nights because you did not know how your family would survive. There were even times when you wanted to cry but you had to put on a brave face because you believed that this was not the end of the world. You tried not to let your family know about what you were going through and when they did, you promised them that things would get better. And somehow, by God’s grace they did.
The years skip by and you take your child to university or whatever their next step is. You tell them that you are proud of them and leave them to grow up. And all the while you are praying for them not to make the same mistakes that you made and that they make something of their life.
You did not let your child know about your health scare or the stint that you had in the hospital because you did not want them to worry but you are relieved and happy none the same when you wake up in hospital to see them there holding your hand.
You are there for the graduation and the first job and the first apartment- never mind that it took many years of waiting. And then your child brings someone home and tells you they are getting married. And even though you might not like who they have brought, you give your blessing anyway because you can see how happy your child is. You look on proudly at the wedding and look on even more proudly in the nursery when you look at your grandchild for the first time. And even if the sequence of this was all different, you were proud none the less and thanked God all the same.
And even if you were not around to be there for all of this, you still thank God for the moments that He allowed you to try to be a good father.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Darren Baker