Alex Mathews

Alex Mathews – writer, bared naked dude blah blah blah

Swimming

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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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