The Meaning of ‘Dad’

The Earliest memory of Dad is of a young man in the 80’s.  Thick black moustache, tall rock god in denim jeans and T-shirt.  Constant cigarettes, a cool green car and a on weekends, a cool beer – be it a pub garden, a friends house or comfy chair at home.

He was a fun guy who knew when and how to lay down the law with the family.  I respected and admired him at all times, and this continues for the man I called ‘Dad’ to the this very day and whenever you find yourself reading this ramble.

I’m now in my late 30’s and the man I called ‘Dad’ is still the guy I would turn to when I needed to laugh, chat or get some much needed advice.  In the last eight years, dads advice, support and wisdom has been much needed as I journey from what I now reflect on being boyhood, through to manhood.  Yep, fatherhood has hit me.

It was eight years ago, almost to the day that I found out I was to be a father.  Happy, confused and very much panicked, I raced to my Dad to tell him the news.  The rock god with black moustache had become mellowed over time.  His moustache, well, grey and wiry.  Despite his love of rock music, he had become on occasion partial to the likes of Cold play and Keane.   I was met with a reserved persona typical of a man of his generation and with his usual wit he responded with a glint in his eyes, “oh god, look out.  Say goodbye to your sleep and your hair”.  He was very much happy but at the same time, was looking forward to me squirming.  To Dad, like many grandfathers to be, this was sweet revenge tangled in the joys of a growing pride.

The years had not been kind to my Dad.  He was one of countless victims of the decline in industry and despite his ever strong commitment to work, he was hit hard by physical illness and a bitter divorce from my mum.  Nevertheless, his patriarchal role in the family stood firm in the eyes of his children and all who knew him.  Even my mum – begrudgingly – knew he was a dedicated father.  A good man.  A great human being.

Over the last eight years my family has grown and increased. I currently have  two children.  Two wonderful boys who I have watched and I like to think, nurtured into fine young people.  equipped with good moral standings, a happy family life and a good start on their own unique life journey ahead.

The hard work of their mum and dad has surely giving them the best foundations possible and non of this would be possible if it were not for our own parents.

Eight years in and I am faced with a new challenge.  A Dilemma of sorts.  I have a wonderful home.  A decent enough job.  Two amazing boys.  Things appear sweet.  But the Dilemma stands as follows…

After a long battle with illness, my Dad entered a hospital for the 3rd time and passed away.  He held my hand and fought hard, scared but willing to accept his death.  with his dying breath he whispered something to me that I have never shared with anyone. Maybe one day I will share, but not now.

Two years prior to my Dad passing, my wife lost her Dad.  Another great man who everyone respected.  Another hard working man with great self belief, struck down by illness and divorce. Another who  went down fighting.   Another story for another day perhaps…

Two great men in our life together as parents have passed and I am left here today with no father figure of my own to guide me.  As my children grow I am learning new things about myself, my relationship with my wife and of my kids.  The challenges are new to me but perhaps old to the world, but I have no father figure of my own to fall back on.  No more pearls of wisdom, personal advice or guide to tell me where I’m going right or wrong.  No Father to turn to for a quiet word, a serious chat or even a point and laugh as my old man would have.

So my Dilemma is ‘How do I be the Dad my kids need?’  Oh and one more thing I have failed to mention, my wife is now pregnant… twins!

Our Dads have missed so much in recent years.  Our wedding (yes our boys were out of wedlock), the pains of my work.  My fight to keep the house finances in order and now the birth of two children.  Through all these things I have needed and wanted my Dad there so he can witness it as the head of the family and selfishly, so I can fall back on him when things aren’t going well.

I am in uncharted territory and I feel the ship I sail is riddled with holes and is far too small for the seas and oceans ahead.

So, to combat this dilemma I have started this blog.  It is hopefully going to help in the following ways:

  1. A captains log – As I go along, this is going to be my diary.  Something to reflect on as the years go by, but also as a keepsake for my kids.  They, you and I, are going to explore the best and worst of me.
  2. Self help – I hope to lean on this at times to voice issues and hopefully find solutions that my Dad may otherwise have helped with.
  3. A Manual – Lets face it, there is no manual to life or fatherhood.  The kids sure as hell don’t come with one and everyone is searching and laughing at each others mistakes.  This will hopefully have a few hints, tips and peaches to learn from as I bring yet another two kids into the world while trying to juggle two growing boys, a wife, a house and a job.

I hope you gain something from this as I go along.  I hope to explore fatherhood and all its challenges.  Where I can, I’ll throw a few life hacks, questions and maybe some answers to both the trivial and the seriousness points of being a Dad.

So, to kick us off.  The title of this particular blog is ‘the meaning of Dad’.

For this you need to dig deep and think back to your own Dad.  Whether or not your Dad was super human, a complete douche or never there, the answer is pretty simple because you would have already built up an opinion of this for yourself.

For me, my Dad was always there, even though from the age of 8, we did not live under the same roof.  My Dad – to me – was the greatest man alive and when he failed massively with me, my world crumbled.  When he was angry with me, it hurt hardest and when he was upset, I was devastated.  I always wanted him there to pick me up, dust me down and be there with me.  I feel this way right this very second.  Sadly for all too many, Dad is either not so great or has never been there.  The reality can be harsh so I’m told, and a great defiance is built up of an absent father or a father who is plain crappy all the time.

The sad truth is the pain.  It is crippling when a Dad is bad, which brings me to the meaning of a Dad.

DISCLAIMER: This is by no means meant as disrespect to mums across the globe.  Their role and plight is equally as hard, of not harder at times.  Men however, all too often lack in the ability to be a Dad and often fail as a man, where as most women (sadly not all), appear to instinctively embrace the role and seem to be so good at it?  I concede, women have similar battles and the following equally applies to Mums and Dads, but this is a mans perspective for the male condition.  Hopefully, the more I blog, the more I will learn – which is the entire point here.  Just bare with me ladies and if nothing else, humour the naive, boyish ramblings of a struggling individual trying his best to be a Dad.

A Dad has a great responsibility to the family.  Culturally and historically the role is of Alpha. The bread winner.  Disciplinarian. Regardless of the challenge, must face adversity with honour, valour and full on primal ‘umph’.  I’m sure there are better words but, ‘umph’, really gets to the core.

And so the meaning of Dad is summed up in one simple definition, which grows the more you read it, regardless of the font or colour of the text.  It is a role that isn’t to be taken lightly and requires a great understanding of those you serve, because every Dad has been a child themselves and will therefore know what a child will expect of their Dad, Albeit in hindsight (a superb tool for a Dad)…

Hero

Assume the role fully and be it.  Succeed and please share your secret.  Try and face some failures and your child and I will applaud you wholeheartedly.

Tip of the day: breakfast cereal boxes.

Sick of the cereal falling between the box and the bag?  Tear off the fold on the box (the side the cereal pours from).  No more lost cereal or porridge oats in the box, on the counter or floor.  It’s a happier start to the day.

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