Saturday, March 27, 2004

Parenthood As Vocation

Human jungle gym, and horsie. Mentor, challenger, guide. Entertainer. Champion. Where others wonder if she's ready, I ask and trust, and she delivers; together, we impress the hell out of the people around us. That she is gentle and generous and bright as a nova makes it easy, but today it's not about who she is, but what I can be for her. Because today I realize: As if all my life had prepared me for it, I have a knack for being a daddy.

There something wonderful about such a realization. The stress and self-doubt I felt in and around the birth, when the wee one was but a fragile body, and I a clumsy untrustworthy oaf sure to juggle-and-drop her, has faded, and been replaced by a blooming recognition that this is what I was born for. The confidence is joy. The love returned is rapture, earned or otherwise: it doesn't matter much, like it did last year, whether she reciprocates, and how, now that I know that this is what I'm here for.

But there's something horrible, too. No job or task I've ever set for myself has ever been successful, not wholly; finally realizing why doesn't mitigate the awkwardness of a prolonged and dark adolescence, or the half-mad half-sad plague of an unsatisfied young adulthood. And knowing this, so sudden and yet so right, darkens the future as it darkens the past. No job I ever have will truly be vocational again; at best, one might say that my tendency towards (and love of) culturewatching, my skill in teaching, my joy in coaxing growth in others outside the blood are but happy side effects, partial aptitudes.

And daddyhood desn't pay cash, or keep your kids in clothes and diapers and, later, cars and college. Worse, since someone does after all have to bring home the proverbial bacon, I remain doomed to leave each morning and return late each afternoon, my child in someone else's care, just to ensure that we have an overhead roof, the clothes on our back, the fullbelly provisions.

That I love and trust the woman who I leave that child with each day is important, but it's not the same. I covet her life, still, and I think I always will; I am Daddy; god help me; hear me roar.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:00 PM |

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