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Fatherhood: A Joy, Challenge & Sacrifice

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@crystalmariesing via Twenty20

Marrying a bit late than usual has its advantages.  You get to see others plan their weddings, observe parents parent their kids in action and get practical advice on how to be a good one.  But then again, the reality of truly experiencing parenting is surreal, yet engaging.

Being a new father to a 5-month old Bambino is one of the greatest joys in my life thus far, and although we never thought we’d have a child within 4 months into the marriage, we are grateful because many couples today struggle with having kids.

So how do you know when you’re a father?  You know not just for the title it gives you, but for the big changes that mesh and mess many aspects of your life. From babies to adolescence, the reality is that our children will grow up so fast and with that speed, come different observations and adjustments.  We can definitely say that parenting, or fatherhood at least, is not a walk in the park.

You know you’re a father when your vehicle changes from a sedan to a stroller.  Your sleep is now considered a luxury, because of sporadic wake-up calls by your child.  After marrying my wife, I thought I was the boss, but she was, especially when she got pregnant.  After we had our son, he became the boss.  You know you’re a father when without prior training you have to change diapers and get sprinkled by baby goo.  It becomes tolerable when there’s frequency of course.  You’re a father when the pictures you snap on your phone are no longer yours but his, because you want to make sure that every moment is captured.  During mall visits, you’re buying priority shifts because instead of shopping for yourself, you think about your child first and before every bill is paid, his milk and diapers become the priority.  I think the realization of being a father came the first time my son and I gazed at each other.  It was in that moment of silence, that there was a clear connection of joy, safety, fulfillment, and love.

But as they grow up, testimonials from close friends tell me that these cuties can turn into little monsters too. Suddenly, their energy level is three times more than yours and their senses are sharper than ever that most parents either lose weight running after their toddlers or give up in the couch. They bold upright and stop their children before they can poke a fork on an outlet.  Yikes! When they become tykes, the inquisitiveness becomes so apparent.  They will ask you questions of every sort from the simplest to the most complicated, and they will demand an answer even if you come up with the flimsiest ones. Everything they watch on TV becomes them, as they behave like Dora or Lumberjacks.  5 years later, that’s when ambition glows in their lives.  You hear declarations like “I wanna be this or that when I grow up,” and sky’s the limit because, as fathers, we let them dream.  When high school strikes, most teens value their privacy and build a secret world of their own.  Under the temporariness of their puberty, insecurities arise, pimples flare up, identity crises surfaces and they start developing closer encounters with their friends more than they do with us parents.  We are not very welcome in their Facebook page, neither do they show affection in public and family time can be reduced to ordering food, followed by smartphones and tablets shutting down any conversation. We want to be there for them, to encourage, to lead and to join up in some sporting activity if it were not for our fading stamina.

Then they graduate from college. We savor the moment, get teary-eyed when they hoist their diplomas and hats, take them out for a big meal, and reward them with a graduation gift.  But in our time alone, we look back and say, how fast the last years have become?

In all these years, the better question to ask is not how much we spent, but how much we invested.  Have we?  You see, fathers play a huge role in the lives of kids. Research has proven, that children who grow up fatherless end up not only being distracted, delinquent (teenage pregnancies, etc.) but also having addictions that range from alcohol to drugs, some ending up in gangs committing crimes. Ironically, this is the generation where fathers are missing in action.  This is where we find now the challenge because the typical father who is the breadwinner of the family is usually busy; if not working overseas to make ends meet.  And in their absence, the gap of losing that father figure, the strong parental presence is growing.

There is a call, therefore, for all of us fathers to be responsible and intentional in our approach to be there for our kids.  We are the backbone of the family.  We are the role models wherein they pattern their lives for tomorrow. We are the pillar of stability needed by our wives to take leadership and steer our home in the right direction. The most difficult job in the world is not running a business; it is leading a family and being a great father. It requires sacrifice. No wonder it becomes the most rewarding occupation too because the truest measure of success is not gauged by how much you’ve accumulated, but how much you’ve made your sons and daughters better than you.  That becomes your “net worth.” In this culture, more and more women are carrying that role today not because they want to, but because they have to and it will devaluate the calling of the Father in the eyes of their children.

On Father’s day, let us all be reminded not just about where to take our families for lunch or dinner. Traditionally, it’s special but fleeting. Instead, we should think about the countless joys of fathering, assess where we are today, and respond to the challenges it brings with it. We need to man-up and shape-up.  We need to put in more time, build bridges, discipline, play, hug, wrestle, laugh and love our kids.

The perfect reference point of joyful, challenging and sacrificial loving is the greatest act in the world wherein a sovereign God Himself, who was pleased at the birth of His son, gave Him up to redeem an imperfect people in an imperfect world so that all of mankind, would experience perfect love.

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