Monday, June 17, 2013

Being a Dad

     “Kid’s are great,” Cliffy said to me. He was the program director at the radio station I worked at. I was still reeling from the news that Prajna was pregnant and we had been married only a month. I didn’t know how I wanted to feel about having kids so soon. I thought it might be nice to have some time to just be a couple for awhile. But as I spread the news about our little bundle of news, all I got was congratulations. No-one would sympathize with me? Hey, I was still a kid. I just turned 26. I wasn’t ready for kids.
     But I just kept getting happy remarks. Cliffy told me don’t bounce a naked baby on your belly ‘cause you might get crapped on. But kids were great, even if they do spoil your new blue shirt.
     Did I want a kid? I guess I was going to have one whether I wanted it or not. I did get people telling me scary stories, usually involving noise, tears, or other things that come out of babies. How many diapers a day? I heard the words “…what you have to look forward to…” plenty of times. Yeah, we were going to have a baby. We wanted a family, so I accepted it. We were having a baby. This is how it would be.
     But it wasn’t. I don’t know when or how it finally dawned on me like a sunrise after a long cold night. But this is what I didn’t get for the longest time. It wasn’t about having a baby, getting a kid. It was this: I was now a dad.
     My wife getting pregnant was not about getting a kid added to my family. It was about me transforming more into the man God intended me to be. I was a dad. I am a dad.
     Being a dad means changing diapers. You will get gross stuff on you. Not to fret, it’s not as toxic as a lot of things people put into their bodies nowadays.
     Being a dad means being a target of the rage of a child. I once heard a little girl, enraged at her parents in church, whisper: “I don’t love you!” She was mostly a sweet girl who obviously was raised with lots of love to be able to hurl such a statement. Kids say what they feel at the moment, not what they might feel later.
     Being a dad means it’s no longer about you. It’s about the family with you as a part of it. And the sacrifices that are worth it? They feel the best in the end.
     Being a dad means being a role model. Whether I like it or not, my children are watching and learning, growing and imitating. I see the dry wit in more than one of my children flourishing. I also see negative character traits they’ve picked up from me.
     I am constantly trying to strengthen my relationship with God. As I do this more, I am becoming more encouraged at the underlying theme I can’t escape from in God’s Words. God loves his children. If that is modeled to me, I can do two things.
First, I can love my children the same way God loves me. It’s a love that I will never lose. I can distance myself from God (and I have) to the point where I don’t feel that love anymore. But it was always there. There was and is nothing I could do to make God stop loving me, I want my children to feel the same thing from me.
Second, I can model that love to them. I can’t control what the world will someday do to shape the lives of my children. But I want to model in them the love that they will have for their children someday. This, I do want them to learn from me.
I’ve been a dad for 20 years now and I’m still learning. There is joy in discovery as well as some anguish and pain. I have 5 living children and one gone home to be with The Lord. I won’t say waiting for me in heaven. She had her earthly fill of waiting in hospitals and is probably keeping busy.
Of my 5 children here with me, I am astounded and proud of them all. The talent, integrity, and love I see tells me that God must have a hand in the outcome as well as me. 20 years ago I was a nervous wreck about having a baby. And now I’m sure I was put on this earth to be a dad.
1 month-old Jamie spits up on me and Naomi can't believe Prajna wants a picture of it

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