What Type of Dad Will I Be? A Rad Perspective on Fatherhood

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A good dad, walking the beachMoms might be different, but I don't think dads can really know what type of parent they will be .. until actually faced with fatherhood.

I mean, certainly we all aspire to excel at one of life's most important roles .. but until we put hand to task, our preconceptions represent little more than wishful thinking.

A friend told me yesterday, "I always knew you'd be a good dad -- an *excellent* dad -- but you have exceeded even my expectations."

"How did you know?" I interrupted, fishing for more compliments, ".. that I'd be a good dad?" (Cuz I didn't know myself.)

"I just knew," he answered, declining to elaborate.

At the time, I was talking on my cell, walking at the Back Bay. (I have a small, but supportive network of friends I can call to help deal with things.)

The Back Bay is where I usually go after I give the Bug back to his mom, and can't see him for several days. Hiking in nature helps me process the feelings of loss that come from missing him.

There I saw a bobcat .. my first-ever out in the wild. Strikingly beautiful animal. Dark colors. Pointy ears. He did not seem alarmed by crossing paths with a human, passing within 15 feet (5 meters).

A lady following some distance behind said he was one of three offspring born several months ago, and that the mother-bobcat was much lighter in color. I know it sounds corny, but the sighting made the day feel special .. like when I spy dolphins, or a whale.

Sometimes, after I give the Bug back, it feels like my heart is ripped apart .. but this week was different. I felt *good* .. a sense of accomplishment .. satisfied I had done a good job, and content he was happy and developing well.

 ••• today's entry continues below •••

Still haven't been able to figure out why I get so sad sometimes, after he leaves. Of course, I never wanna see him go, but sometimes I get downright disoriented .. and feel like I'm floating out in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Hard to describe. Nor can I predict when I'll feel good (like now), just a little sad, or disoriented.

After he leaves, I have this feeling like » "Okay, what's it gonna be this time?" Cuz I never know from week to week. But this week I felt the best ever (after he left).

He's grown a little bigger. Must've had a growth spurt. (Noticeably taller.) And I really like that he is good at expressing what he likes, and what he doesn't (like).

We played catch with a frisbee this week. Not a regular plastic frisbee .. but rather one of those big, cloth-covered things, about half the size of a hula hoop.

The thing is nearly big as he is, but he can throw it surprisingly well .. accurate enough to hit me in the chest 3 times in a row .. from 12 feet away .. tho I still have to fetch an occasional errant throw, and he still can't catch it, no matter how accurately I throw it to him.

But something about playing catch with the big (cloth-covered) frisbee was very cool. My buddy Battman used to drive up to Laguna Beach every few weeks, and we'd go "toss the frisbee," at a local park, where we'd have long discussions. For us, this was a form of "therapy."

Having lived in many different states (over the years) has allowed me to toss frisbees all over the country .. since they were first invented .. and even out of the country.

In Hawaii, I'd time my tosses to lead the Dog into a big wave .. at Waimea (on the North Shore) .. so that, in order to catch the frisbee, the Dog would get clobbered .. by a big wave.

The best throws were those where the frisbee, the Dog, and the wave all converged at the same time (and the same place). Blammo! The Dog would catch it, and get clobbered by an 8-foot wall of water, just before it broke on the beach. (You can do that kind of stuff when you're 21 years old. We rarely chickened-out.)

[Rad note: Waves are big in the winter on the North Shore, and big in the summer on the South Shore. But the *biggest* waves are those which come in winter .. to the North Shore.]

So frisbee-tossing and I go back many years. You won't find it listed in any official manual, but (to me), this is one of the key developmental milestones.

Oddly enough, I also feel that not-being-able to see the Bug every day (like normal parents) has made me a better dad .. cuz I appreciate more our (limited) time together. Funny how things work out.

So, am I good dad? I'll let others answer. This much I can say » I *do* try hard. I pour everything I have into that boy. After he leaves for the week (on Friday, or Sunday night), it takes me a day-or-so to recover.

No doubt, you've heard the phrase "pay attention." The word "pay" implies attention costs you something. Look at the photo at the top of this page. That guy is paying attention. (And that beach looks a lot like Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach.)

I try to pay attention to the Bug, give him lots of affection, try to anticipate his every need and empathize. At the top of our list » fun. Laughter is the sign I am succeeding. I feel good about the dad I've become. (At least, today.)

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » fatherhood+dad+visitation+parent

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on March 23, 2008 11:51 AM.

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