Ignorance is bliss,
Knowledge is burdensome;
For death is sweet,
While life is hard.
Before you lie life and death,
Knowledge and ignorance…
Ignorance is bliss,
Knowledge is burdensome;
For death is sweet,
While life is hard.
Before you lie life and death,
Knowledge and ignorance…
It’s ain’t easy. You expect me to fly when my wings have no feathers and I am tethered to the ground by the weight of my failures and the failures of those before me. My duty is to see past my flaws, deny myself and crucify my flesh daily, to lay down my life for you and your mother, to provide a fertile environment for your growth while I stifle my own. I too have dreams son; don’t for one second think that because I am laying them aside for you I do not care about them. To the contrary; I care about the things I put up on my vision board when I was 5. I care about the moments spent imagining myself on elevated stages, collecting awards on podiums and receiving keys to cities from leading men. I still have a burning desire to be considered as an unforgettable human being, to have my memory live on long after I am gone. That burning desire still consumes me, it hasn’t died. In fact, as I type away, fingers waging a war of attrition against the stiff buttons on this old keyboard in this dull office – the flame rages on. The further away I slide from my aspirations, the more my soul yearns for them. Don’t be fooled by my poker face, don’t fall for this blank expression. A passionate young man resides within me even now. I don’t lay down my dreams because they are irrelevant to me. I don’t brush them aside because they do not matter. Understand this son – I do so because you matter. By my decision, by my choice, by my will – I crucify my dreams so that yours may be realised. It’s not pretty and it’s downright thankless; just look at how you respond to my rebukes – but I’ll do it anyway, a million times over, until I physically can’t any longer. This is how I envision a father and this is what I aspire to be. This is my ultimate dream now. And I know this: it ain’t easy – but it’s worth it.
Father’s Day Tribute
Learn This My Son
Learn this my son: they are called “loved ones” for a reason.
Love them with all your heart.
Say you love them as often as you can; show that you love them always.
Put them first before yourself.
When you are famished offer them food.
When you thirst ask if they would like something to drink.
This is the kind of man you ought to be.
Your family will cherish you for it.
Learn this my son: it is called hard work because it is hard.
Is what you are doing hard?
Then you’re probably doing it right.
Do not shirk away from your duty.
Chip at it like the mason working on his prized sculpture.
Remember to always aspire!
Visualise, my boy!
Plan ahead before you set your chisel against the stone, lest your eagerness ruin the masterpiece long before it is realised.
Do this and your goals will be achievable.
Learn this my son: stay away from negative influence.
Anything that clouds your judgement blocks your route to success.
Surround yourself with people with clear agendas, with goals as high or even greater than your own.
Learn from them.
In their presence do not speak the loudest, instead listen the most; this is how you’ll grow.
Learn this my son: yesterday was yesterday.
Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow you will be one day closer to heaven than you are today.
Do not be afraid! Be excited!
You know now that you have limited time… make the most of it!
Live every moment!
Push as if you’ll never push again.
Strive to your maximum at every attempt.
Do this and you will have no regrets.
Do this and you will be content.
Learn this my son: laugh.
I cannot stress this enough,
This way the aforementioned ‘stress’ will not be enough to stop you.
Laugh in the face of adversity, your family will cherish you for it.
Laugh, for that is how they will know they will get through it.
Laugh while you do all that I have taught you and your days shall be long and joyful…
Learn this my son: I am but a man and I teach what I have witnessed with my own eyes.
Your true guide awaits you to find Him.
Search for Him for He has knowledge far beyond my capabilities.
Learn how to be a father from Him, He is the greatest Father of all.
He will help you find one to share your love and laughter with.
He will give you direction and strength.
He will show you where opportunities lie.
He will endow you with wisdom, my boy.
My son, do all of this and you will make me undoubtedly proud.
Do this and I will be as proud as a man can be.
Excerpt from ‘Bleeding Heart’
I think a lot of emphasis is placed on the importance of the practical roles of a father, and rightly so. A father is expected to protect, to guide, to provide and to renovate. I guess that is why there is a massive spike in the rate of DIY accidents among fathers than men that have no children. By the way I just made up that statistic, did you believe that statement? It makes sense though.
One aspect that is undervalued is that of the words the father speaks. Encouragement, affirmation, direction, discipline and observations are essential to unlocking the full potential of one’s child and to make the relationship as wholesome as possible. I think about the few times my father’s dished out verbal discipline and how those moments have stuck more than any other. I find it hard to do the things he admonished me for simply because of our relationship and his role in my life. As a result I sometimes wonder if I would be drastically different had I been admonished more. Would I have less of what I view as character and organisational flaws?
Self-esteem and self-confidence can be massively boosted by having a father who affirms you. You are a genius, you are beautiful. If you hear such rousing statements from someone who matters so much to you, you won’t have that void being filled by another character in your life. You’ll find you’re less prone to people pleasing and you don’t need to impress others to earn their respect. You would have developed self-respect by knowing you are valued from a young age.
Lastly regarding direction. While it is important for a father to give room for a child to grow in their talents it is also essential to help point out the skills and talents the father views, as unbiased as possible. Mostly those that are phenomenally talented at something don’t see how good they are until someone tells them. I believe it is the role of the father to observe what his children’s talents are and prescribe possible pathways for them to make the most impact on this earth. Furthermore we forget how difficult and unreasonable it is for a teenager still in the process of discovering oneself to make vital decisions that can potentially set the direction for the rest of their lives in stone. During this crucial period guidance from a father, who presumably has accrued wisdom through wide reading, and experiences (partaken of and received through sharing), will be able to give the child as many (right) options and a good way of helping them choose which one.
Perhaps it’s time for Dads to stop being the silent brooding voice but to speak out more often and to do so positively.
Where do I begin?
You are my pride and joy.
Seeing you smile warms my heart,
Seeing you fall pains me.
I live for your achievements.
I will forever wish success for you.
When you stumble I want to be there to steady you.
When you tumble, my hand will prop you up.
I want to give you all my wisdom,
All my resources,
All my time,
All my love.
Son – I will affirm you.
I will praise you.
I will chastise you.
I will teach you in the way you should go.
I will provide you the tools you need,
To be the best version of yourself.
I will love you when you don’t love yourself.
I will show you your value.
I will keep my promises to you.
I will make time for you.
I will die to self for you.
That’s the love a father should have towards his son.
Dad did the same for me,
I’ll be damned if I don’t do the same for you.
I’ll be the best dad in the world for you,
You can count on it.
“You look like you would do well with the toddlers.”
“Huh?” was all I managed. The door shut behind me and I was immediately swept away by the pervasive odour of soiled diapers in a room full of fragile little 1 and 2 year olds. Toddlers with snot running down their noses playing in some sort of organised chaos on a custard yellow tarpaulin. Right. Where to begin?
“Uhm… excuse me?” I had approached the older gentleman who had assisted me in my first diaper change. “I’m new here and I’ve just been deployed to the toddler section. Would you let me know what it is I should do?” I thought I had been clear enough but the man looked perplexed. Before his evident worry became my own he seemed to calm down and nodded.
“In this room I am not the authority, she is,” the man led me to the young woman who had taught me how to register babies in the first place.
“It’s you!” I remarked excitedly. “Well, seems like I am at your service. What should I do?”
She smiled at me. I guess my enthusiasm wasn’t misplaced. “Pick a kid and play with ’em.”
I returned the smile and went to town!
“Hey there you cute lil goo goo ga ga! What’s up? What your name?” As I asked all these essential questions my voice’s pitch only went higher and higher. Eventually I was just an unintelligible as the kids I was trying to communicate with which bizarrely made me more approachable to them. I guess somehow we ended up speaking the same language. I knew in that instant I had found my place of service.
If it wasn’t evident then it became even more so when in trying to escape my ghastly “I’m coming to get you” face a young man fell on an even younger, smaller girl. Now you have to understand that a kid under 2’s motor functions aren’t enviable. In trying to get up the boy continuously pressed down and squashed the little girl until he could get on his feet. This led to tears and someone needed to bring peace back. I picked up the little girl and did the only thing I knew to do in that situation. I rocked her in my arms and recited the little bit of Proverbs 31 I knew. “You are a strong woman of noble character. You are a virtuous woman. It’s ok to cry honey but you’ll be ok, everything will be fine.” Just like that she stopped crying. I felt an immense sense of victory. “Can I wipe your tears? Let me wipe your tears, ok?” All this was done with minimal fuss and we became the best of friends, praise be to God!
It would be great if the story ended here but it didn’t. After playing together for a while yet she reached for the hem of my shirt and said, “Daddy!”
“Shush…” I said, rather hurriedly, “Don’t call me Daddy.” I don’t think she got the memo.
“Daddy,” she repeated.
“It’s Ayanda,” I said exasperated. “Aya.”
I became Daddy for the rest of the day. Those around me sensing my discomfort tried to cheer me up, “Maybe Daddy is the only word she knows,” they said. Right. Makes sense. Relief flooded my veins. That’s not so bad then, I thought.
When it was time to go a lady approached us with a smile on her face. The girl turned and ran away from me like I had transformed into a ghost. She gave the woman a huge hug as she screamed exuberantly, “MOMMY!”
Before you get too excited, no I did not invent or discover a machine that changes diapers on one’s behalf. Does the machine even exist? Hmmmm… something to look up in my spare time.
I’ve been away for a bit and for good reason. I’ve been preparing to be a father. Yes you got that right – awesome news, spoiler alert, I’m going to be a father! Shocking isn’t it? It shouldn’t be though. It’s something I’ve had on my vision board for a long time now and I’m ready to fill that role as best I can… at least a couple years from now.
Gotcha didn’t I?
Aye this won’t be an issue for a while:
But the idea is to be a great dad. 4 of my 5 mentors raise their kids as active fathers and that’s the route I wanna go by too. What about the other one, Ayanda? Is he an absent father? No, he’s a she and a great Mom. But I don’t aspire to be a Mom so she’s been excluded from this post, with her permission.
What even is this post? Well, it’s the introductory chapter to a new series! Preparing for Fatherhood. I’ve been observing fathers in general, my 4 mentors in particular and have taken a life-changing course called ‘Be That Man’. I also volunteered to work in the kids ministry of the church and oversee toddlers.
Why the title then? Well that’s because I changed my first diaper on Sunday. It smelled like crap! As one would expect – and it was glorious lol.
How did it go? Basically I carried a table into the little men’s room and this dude came carrying a putrid ball of cuteness and plopped him on the table. The conversation went like this:
“You ever changed a diaper before?” he asked. He seemed tense.
“No… if there’s instructions somewhere I think I can do it… I can try.”
4 wet wipes and a dumped and replaced diaper later it went:
“I think that’s how it’s done. That’s the front – right?”
“I think… we’ve done it,” he replied.
And accomplished I felt and still feel. I wouldn’t take back that experience for a thousand Kuwaiti Dinars. Why that currency in particular? Last I checked it’s the strongest currency in the world. If that’s wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments.
So – let’s step into preparation for fatherhood together!
PS BTW if you’re planning to be a Mom and not a Dad please don’t feel excluded by these posts. Instead I invite you to engage in the comments adding (or critiquing) whatever you would like in a father for whatever talking point the subsequent posts will cover.
See you tomorrow.
photo cred: All-free-download.com