I have been reluctant for some reason to write about being a father. Can’t say why, really. I think it is because I fear it becoming the only thing that identifies me, and my ambition was never to be a guy who writes about fatherhood. It felt so private, like something I had to keep the sanctity of, not bother anyone with. Plus, I think it’s hard enough for me to define who I am and what I want to say without complicating the matter by talking about fatherhood. But the truth is that I don’t think there is anything more important, and more worth talking about than fatherhood (see, that’s why I have held back for this long). I can get very sentimental about it. I am not above singing Cat’s in the Cradle and weeping when nobody is watching. I sing it for my boy at night, and he doesn’t tell me to shut up yet.

Being a father is an incredible thing. It presents me with challenges that rate on a level beyond all the others I faced before fatherhood, and still face, but now I have much less time to worry about because this son of mine needs so much of my attention. I have in me a desire to be the best father I can be, and shaping what that even looks like is an effort of daily practice. There are monsters under the bed, and sometimes I think they are me, or some reflection of me. I try and show him that it’s okay to be scared. I try and show him that getting mad is ok, but acting out isn’t. But the funny thing is that it sometimes feels like I am the one learning all this, as if for the first time. It’s funny how this works. We were swimming yesterday, or rather I was swimming and trying to get him to swim. I would suggest every two minutes that we go underwater, much to his protest and fear. After playing this game with him for an hour or so, I said this:

“Sometimes we have to do things that make us scared or uncomfortable, or that we don’t want to do, so we can learn new things.”

And it was then that I felt the hypocrisy. I am sure any father must know this feeling. I started to wonder where in my own life I am just too scared to go underwater.

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4 Replies to “Swimming”

  1. This is so beautiful, and watching you teach our son to swim in the pool yesterday was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed in my life. You are an excellent father, and it is one of life’s greatest gifts to witness the two of you bonding and developing what will be the most important relationship of your life, and his. I love you.

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