I fret a lot about fatherhood. I struggle to delight in being a father. Before ever becoming a dad, I told my newlywed wife that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a father… but if I was going to have kids, it couldn’t be just one. The reason for not wanting to have kids? Responsibility: I knew that my kids would be my responsibility. I like to avoid responsibility. I like being lazy. Also, I knew what a terror I had been to my parents. I had always heard of kids as payback for how you treated your parents. So then what about the “you can’t just have one” thing? It wasn’t just the advertising for Lays chips. I justified it by saying that siblings help socialize. But, really, I think I didn’t want to have to be the one always being sought for attention. I wanted to be able to say go play with your brother (or sister).
There was also the fear that I wouldn’t know what to do as a father. I actually fear that I am inadequate about a lot of things, but with kids, being inadequate would mean that I was screwing up another person’s life. I tasted leadership as a camp counselor at 15 or 16 and I remember popping one of my kids with a “rat tail”. I thought that I was just messing around, but that kid got a whelp on his skin. I feared that this was a sign that I would be an abusive father. And I feared that I was working from was a rough example: I remember times as a kid when things were stressful that I was not sure how to stay out of trouble. And how would I follow that example. We kids were shown in the Proverbs where it said “spare the rod and spoil the child,” but I was also aware that a modern family wasn’t supposed to spank a child. I would need new tools to do anything differently.
Then came the time, of the pregnancy “scare.” We weren’t going to have a baby, but suddenly my wife and I were hit with baby fever. I say “we” but I wasn’t sold on it, heck I still have my questions. Anyway eventually the stork hit our family. During the first pregnancy, I remember being scared about “what am I going to do.” And then I found out that our baby was going to be a girl, Oh boy, was that scary. I actually was in denial a good while after being told that she was a girl… until a repeat ultrasound or something. How could I raise a girl, with my history. I mean really does God know what he’s doing?
That is the question right there. God does know what he is doing. Trust in God helped me come to terms with this a lot quicker. I figured that, in a way God, was demonstrating that he would entrust me with a daughter first. This was a form of grace that I still have to come to terms with. I don’t “deserve” to have a daughter but that was the blessing he gave me first. That little girl has tenderized my heart in so many ways that I suppose there will be several blogs about it later. But realizing that God chose to give me a daughter, meant that I would need to give into his will in so many ways. I have to trust God for the strength to learn proper discipline… and Lord knows that is a work in progress. Having a daughter first meant that now it would be doubly important for me to respect the fair sex (for my wife and for my daughter).
Oh but fatherhood did not stop with just child number one there are 2 boys in the picture now as well. In some ways I thought that this would be easier than, having a girl, but I am realizing that I set up the standards in the way I act for them just as much as for my daughter. But I actually know how my male brain works, and I am scared now that I do not know how to curb the deviance that the Y chromosome brings into the mix. I fear that I will screw these boys up because of all the mistakes I made as a kid and haven’t figured out what went wrong. I guess that is where I still have to rely on the same grace I so easily realized with my daughter. God is trusting me to rear these wee beasties into gents. I must trust Him and his spirit in the same way.
So have I overcome my fear of fatherhood, and desire to be free of responsibility? No I haven’t. quite frequently I wonder what have I done and what am I doing. And I sometimes think that maybe I should let someone else do this because I am just getting it so wrong. Best I can tell, this is a lie that the accuser wants to bring in attempt to defeat what God has put in place. I am not going to win some national Father of the year prize, but these are the gifts I have been given. These are my opportunities to receive from God growth. These are my opportunities to share Gods goodness. For all the responsibility I fear, I appreciate that God has bigger plans for me. Plans to challenge me, plans to grow me, and hopefully plans to show that, despite my best efforts, my kids are well cared for.