There’s a moment when a man becomes a full-fledged father, and it’s not when his child is born. It’s that first night the two of them are alone and he figures out that lying heart-to-heart with a baby is an all-around soother when everybody gets a little colicky. It’s being there the first day of kindergarten and the last year of college. It’s giving an unqualified No to all-night keg parties down by the graveyard and a tentative Yes to the new tattoo. Fatherhood becomes the man who shows up at the school concert even though he’s got work to do, and who finds time to play at the playground even though he was invited for tee-off at ten. It’s learning the times table together at the kitchen table, and staying up late to read The Hobbit out loud. True fatherhood is not how many children a man sires, but whether he has held a child under his wing until the child is ready to fly. It’s showing instead of telling, explaining instead of yelling, and knowing that when the time comes, the father becomes the child, and the child becomes the father.
Excerpted from my out-of-print book, What There is To Love About A Man (Sourcebooks, 1999). New copies are no longer available, but used and imperfect (remainders) can be had for cheap on www. bn.com and other places as well. Or, just keep visiting this blog and you’ll eventually read most (if not all) of the pages right here!