I know that I wasn’t. And I know that I am still not there yet.
Having a stroller, the crib, all the onesies and toys is not a substitute for experience. And it doesn’t get easier with time.
As a father, I am supposed to be the firm hand in the mother-father dynamic. My wife should be the one that our son Robbie runs to when he has a boo-boo. But Robbie just turned 9 months the other day. What kind of running can he do at this point?
He cries. He cries when he is hungry. He cries when he is hurt, when he is sick, when he wants attention and wants to be held. My heart cries when I can’t soothe him, but I must be stoic because that is what fathers do. That is how fathers are supposed to hold themselves.
Before Robbie was born, everyone told my wife and me that we were counting down the last days that we would get a decent amount of sleep in a long, long time. I have found my remedy: caffeine. But it is hard to find a remedy for the guilt that I have for what I think is abandoning my wife every single day that I go to work.
My guilt is in feeling relieved when I go to work because now I know that — yes, work is supposed to be exhausting, but it is nothing compared to being entrusted with the responsibility of being a parent.
As a father I have to push myself physically, test my limits. When the time comes that Robbie asks me if I want to play catch or give him a ride on my shoulders, I don’t want to hear myself say, “No, daddy’s tired.” That’s why I am up at 5 a.m. pushing myself to go forward. Not because I have to but because I want to.
I want to always be strong enough to throw my son up in the air and cradle him as he comes back down. Because that is what fathers are supposed to do.
There is never a right time to be a father – no one is ever ready. Maybe it is this uncertainty that keeps me grounded yet pushing forward. Otherwise, what good would it be if fatherhood was easy?
So I carry on. Striving to be a better person each and every single day. To be that firm hand to guide my son. To be the strong shoulder for my wife to lean on.
Because, after all, that is what fathers do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Artem Altman, pictured above with his son, is a father, writer, blogger and marketing professional. follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ArtemAltman.