Can any man become a dad? Well, although in physiological terms, that might seem like a 99.9% rhetorical question; the answer is much more complicated than that.
I’m quite aware that I cannot speak for all men, or even most men; but of all the things I’ve learned from fatherhood, the most important one is that nothing in the world requires more commitment, sacrifice and awareness than being a dad. Well, if you want to get it right, that is.
Let me ask you: Have you ever felt a crystal clear passion and desire to become something in your life? Whether that something is a pilot, astronaut, firefighter or a circus stuntman? Well, for me it was fatherhood. Ever since I was old enough to hold hands with a girl, I’ve felt the desire to bring a child to life.
To my surprise, being a dad is not even close to how I imagined it. Don’t get me wrong, it has brought me more joy and satisfaction than anything I’ve ever experienced; but the level of responsibility is literally beyond the imagination of anyone that hasn’t been there before, and bigger than anyone can ever warn a non-parent about.
So, the way I see it, there are two sides to the responsibility coin:
1. The level of sacrifice you have to make/the things you have to give up.
2. The fact that this little persons ENTIRE future and existence is in your hands.
I’d like to further explain with examples, exactly what I’m talking about; but before I go ahead and do that, I must tell you that as I write these lines, sitting in my office desk and listening to whatever Spotify chooses to play for me, my face just lit up. I wish I could express how I feel right now, when the song “With arms wide open” by Creed just came up. Since I heard that song for the first time (believe me, I remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing), and bear in mind this was the year 2000, when I was just 15 y/o, I knew this was the song that would represent who I am as a father. If you pay close attention, this song starts with a very low heartbeat, and when I heard that; I just broke in tears. So, let me recompose and carry on with my message:
1. Sacrifice and giving up things:
Sure, we’ve all had to sacrifice things before for someone we love. Anyone can skip the gym one day, or take a day off work to take care of a sick relative, but parenthood is a whole different ball game. Every single decision you make will go around your child’s needs. Where you decide to live, what you decide to buy, where you choose to go for vacation… I mean EVERYTHING.
Adults are adults. We can take care of ourselves just fine. We can handle the heat, cold, mosquitoes, noise, bad neighbors, little sleep; basically whatever you throw our way, but it is simply not the same for a child. You will more often than not find yourself unable to make split second decisions based on your likes and preferences; it just doesn’t work that way anymore.
2. A child’s life and future is in your hands:
It is virtually unfathomable how all of our actions will have either a positive or a negative effect on our children, and even more difficult to comprehend, how good or bad of an effect those actions can have in the long term, and in our children’s lifelong behavior. We are everything to them! Even if we don’t see it in the heat of the moment, kids will sense exactly how we feel, they will feed off of our energy and vibes, and that includes: happiness, frustration, anger, pain, joy, sorrow, grief…. you name it. They will also learn to react based on how we react, and I know for a fact that there are a lot of areas of opportunity that we’ve all identified in ourselves; plus, we already carry heavy baggage from our own upbringing, that we need to be careful not to pass on to our kids.
We have to bear in mind that we need to lead by example, and we also need to figure out all of the emotional needs that our kids have, and help them evolve into emotionally strong and capable individuals. Sources for insecurity are a dime a dozen, and it is our job to ensure they can build the confidence to face anything that is thrown their way, and most of the times; that entails us having to modify how we think, react and carry ourselves… and that is no easy task my friends.
Last but not least, there is the obvious economic responsibility. Their health, education, social activities; well, everything in their life is provided by you. There are simply no shortcuts or excuses. If you think about all of the things we’d be willing to sacrifice (ourselves) if things got tough, it’s probably a lot; but when you have children in your life, that list shortens up rather quickly.
All of that being said, there is NO GREATER SATISFACTION in life. At least not for me. It is all worth it. The moment in time you see your child for the first time, and you start seeing how many of his/her features resemble your own, it’s just inexplicable. First steps, trying new food, learning how to speak, the first time you hear them say “I love you”… trust me, your heart will melt quicker than cheap butter sitting on the pavement on an Arizona highway at noon.
I didn’t have anyone explain to me what being a dad entailed, so this is my shout out to all the guys out there that are thinking of taking the best step in their lives. I just want you to take it firmly, and aware of everything that will be required of you.
My answer to the initial question? Virtually anyone can become a father, but it takes a lot more than you’d think to become a dad.