Our little guy is 13 weeks old now, and he’s […]
Our little guy is 13 weeks old now, and he’s encountered another first. It’s his first stuffy nose. It’s nothing life threatening. The only noticeable consequence of it has been that he’s a bit more wakeful at night because he’s having some difficulty breathing. No big deal.
And yet it feels like it is kind of a big deal. His nose is stuffy because some bugs have invaded his body. As a father, I am troubled by this because it means that something maleficent has invaded our home. That’s not supposed to happen on my watch. I’m the protector of my family, so I take this invasion personally.
I hate those insidious little bugs that cause sickness. They can sneak in under the radar, undetected. In a way, I wish our invader was a flesh-and-blood person, so that I could contend with it. Perhaps I could fight off such an invader before it harmed my family. Perhaps I could take the bullet to protect my son. But this invader gives me no such opportunity. It simply strikes at the most vulnerable member of our family. Coward!
It’s hard to watch him struggle to breathe. I wish I could take his infirmity into my own flesh. If it were possible to make some kind of deal with the germs where they could invade my body as long as they leave him alone, I would do it in a heartbeat. If I could do that, then I would feel like I have some power in the situation. But as it is now, he is the one suffering, and I am the one watching him suffer while feeling powerless. He’s our fifth child, and I’ve seen hundreds of runny noses already—but the feelings are always the same. Why couldn’t it be me instead?
It’s moments like these that cause me to reflect on how fatherhood has changed my character over the years. Before having children, I would have been thinking, “I don’t want to be around any kids. They are walking Petri dishes full of germs that will make me sick and make my life unpleasant.” Now that I have children, I am thinking, “I would do anything to take those germs from my precious little progeny.” Simply put, I was very selfish, but fatherhood has taught me about being self-sacrificial.
This is why portrayals of fathers in popular media often trouble me. Advertisements, movies and other media commonly portray fathers as selfish and childish brutes. Granted, some fathers are that way, but I think they are the minority. Fatherhood has a way of reforming the heart of a man, turning him from a self-centered person to one who is ready to spend every last bit of his time, energy and strength on the flourishing of his family. This is what the school of fatherhood will teach men if they are willing to pay the tuition and do the homework.