What makes a “good father”? There is an element of chance and of risk when two hearts come together and make a third. You cannot know a man as a father until he holds his first child for the first time. A child is like a mirror, like infinity. It is honest and unfiltered and it contains all the raw elements of ourselves that we were forced to grow out of, by time or by people along the course of our lives. It is a part of us that has been thrust back into our beginning without any of the journey that has made us who we are. It is a part of our brothers, our fathers, our mothers and our cousins.
It’s this whole other being and when we become a parent we also learn that we are not “in control” the way that society would have us believe.
It’s a bit like being told that we can teach wildfire to jump through a hula hoop, or that we can lasso the ocean.
There’s no bullet list of things that makes a daddy good. No entrance fee and no learner’s permit. No final exam or list.
That’s because fatherhood, just like motherhood, is a relationship and it is a journey.
I guess that is what makes my partner a “Good Dad”. It makes him a good human being and a good man, as well.
From the first moment, he approaches his children with curiosity. He seeks out the pattern of their personality as they grow inside my belly. He holds his hand over where their feet kick, takes note of any patterns of activity that happen. He talks about them as the human beings that they are, with the needs and wants and dreams and desires and humanness that a person has.
He doesn’t seek to form them into a thing that he has imagined. He lets them color his imagination in whatever vibrant colors they come up with. Even if they clash.
When Mr. Middle was born I offered him over to Alex to hold at some point. Alex gestured to his son’s little face and the lips that had begun to make the rooting o’s. He said “He needs to nurse right now. He needs you. We’ll bond later.”
There’s a profound lack of ego in how he parents.
It’s not about him.
His children are not pets, not property. Not embarrassments or toys. He is not afraid of their emotions or anxious over shortcomings or the things that they struggle to learn. He is proud of their achievements, of their individuality. He sees the details of who they are, and he celebrates them.
When they need me, he makes sure that they can come and find me. When they need him he makes sure that he is there.
He doesn’t try to buy love for himself. He gives.
I can’t capture the things that make a “good father” in a list because a good dad is human. A living breathing person that has a relationship with each living and breathing person that he is working to raise.