A Fathers’ Day of Firsts

The two elements of Fathers' Day that mean the most to me.

The two elements of Fathers’ Day that mean the most to me.

This Sunday will, for me, be (to quote Charles Dickens) the best of times and the worst of times.

It will be my first Fathers’ Day as an actual father – our daughter turns 9 months old this week. But it will also be the first Fathers’ Day since my Dad died, which makes the occasion bitter-sweet.

Naturally I still miss Dad immeasurably. I miss his wisdom, his presence, his adoration for his granddaughter and his unexpected visits just to see her. Most of all I miss that I’ll never be able to see him or give him a hug ever again.

Grief is a strange thing. Some days you’re fine. You live your life, think about those that aren’t with you anymore and smile at their memory. Other days some completely inconsequential thing will trigger a flood of melancholy that threatens to wash you away completely.

I’ve been fortunate enough to survive its onslaught so far mainly because I have something to live for and be positive about. She’s small, absolutely gorgeous and likes nothing more than being propped up in my lap, looking deep into my eyes, giving me a big smile and saying “MumMumMum!” then blowing raspberries at me.

Nine months is an incredibly long time in parenthood. Historians use the initials “BC” (Before Christ) & “AD” (Ano Dominae) to specify recent historical periods. Parents are more likely to use the initials “BB” (Before Baby) – a period that may as well have been over 2000 years ago for the changes that have taken place since this tiny sentient being came into their lives.

Sleeping, drinking, pooping, crying, smiling, looking, thinking, exploring, eating, sitting, rolling, chewing and crawling are all things we, as adults, take for granted and as ancient history. But to witness someone going through these things first-hand for the first time is world-altering.

I must say, our little lady is doing a stellar job of coming to grips with this big, crazy world. Like the little girl in the YouTube clip – part of me wishes she’ll never grow up and remain this small and cute forever. As a modern-day, cellphone camera-equipped father, I have taken, literally, (954 at last count) just under a thousand photos of her in these last 9 months, so part of her always will be this small and cute. But I also look forward to watching her grow and develop her own personality. We’re in no big hurry, though.

She fell asleep in my arms the other night. There is something so intimate in holding a sleeping baby. They are so cute, but also so vulnerable. You feel a mixture of utter love and devotion to your child, mixed with a stone-cold protective readiness to go Jack Reacher on the arse of anyone who so much as tries to hurt or take your baby from you.

Someday I hope to see my Dad again on some ethereal plane, whether it be in Heaven, Purgatory, Nirvana, Elysium or even the Matrix and give him that long-awaited hug. But until then I’ll focus on being the best father I can be for our daughter and giving her all the hugs and kisses I can.

Happy Fathers’ Day!

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