It all starts with a broken heart, a disillusionment about the statues your youth asks you to revere.
I wasn’t supposed to tell you that, but it’s the truth. We who have ever felt this abandonment from our fathers went through stages of pain throughout our lives we never fully reconcile. We become victims of the ideal of a nuclear family, where the father provides the strength and grounded reason while the mother provides the emotion and the tenderness for this fantasy family. Those of us who only had our mothers around may have grown up to resent that sort of set up, even when we saw a plethora of examples where such a setup wasn’t a fantasy for anyone involved.
Then, we see we’re not alone. We’re OK with having been left, but not with the person who did the leaving … and the title bestowed upon that person.
For years, I held this resentment with me, and, no matter how much I saw him after I became a man, I couldn’t shake the idea that I missed out on all these life lessons from him, and that the void I felt for so much of my life was him. My mother never raised me to hate or show disrespect to the man, which I never did. I just felt like all my other friends who had fathers knew how to do cool guy stuff like drive a car, go to concerts, or talk to girls. As I got older, some of the awkwardness dissipated, but the feeling that I missed out stuck with me for longer than it should have.
Then, we got pregnant. Holy shit.
Outwardly, I had told people that we needed to redefine fatherhood, but inwardly, I didn’t know what that meant. The plethora of advice from present poured in first like a drip, then a waterfall. I put half of the advice in my back pocket, a quarter of it in my front pocket, and a handful in the trash (honestly). I read a lot, researched a lot, and contemplated a lot on the type of father I wanted to project. When I finally held him, I felt like God had prepared me for this role my entire life. I didn’t know what to do, and, for the first time, that helped.
It humbled me to no end. Cleaning your son’s poop at 2am in the morning will do that to anyone. As a matter of fact, by week one, he had already pooped, peed, and spit up all over me. In some schools, that’s called the Baby Trinity. I believed.
He’s changed my life immeasurably and I would never trade this for anything. When I was younger, I disliked Father’s Day because of the things I did not have. Recently, I’ve learned to love Father’s Day for the things I do. He’s put his little feet squarely in the holes in my heart, and I can feel them slowly healing.
Alejandro’s Father …
p.s. – Thanks to Luz for him. There is no Da-da without Mama.