When I was a kid, my dad made my brother and me -- and the neighborhood kids, if they were lucky enough to be over that day -- wear empty pizza boxes in the backs of our pants to soften our falls when we went rollerblading outside. He was worried we'd break our tailbones, and we had refused to wear pads (they were so uncool). So he made the pizza boxes a requirement. We looked really cool then.
My dad was always the "fun parent." He was unpredictable and playful, with a tattoo on his arm and crazy ideas up his sleeve. But he was also incredibly kind, and kind of a worrywart. The one thing we could predict with him was that he would do anything for his family, and always love us like mad. That's still true today. When my beautiful mom died in 2007, he became our only parent, which made my relationship with him more complicated -- and made it mean that much more.
Now I have a son, and his father is also the "fun one." He is amusing, affectionate, and very protective. He also happens to have an arm full of tattoos. Becoming a mother has granted me a broader perspective on what it is to be a father. It gives me even greater appreciation for my dad, and daily gratitude for Cody's. Watching my son with his dad, sometimes I'm struck by how different their interactions are from his interactions with me -- and other times, I'm struck by the similarities. Given a choice, I'm the one Cody goes to for comfort, but when it comes to jamming out, his dad is it.
I've thought a lot about motherhood in the last year, about being a mother, about missing my mother. But with Father's Day around the corner, I've been thinking more about this role that I know so much and yet so little about. What does it feel like to be a father? I decided to ask a handful of dads I know, from those who are a week into the job, to those who have been doing it for decades: What does fatherhood mean to you?
Here is what they said:
- "Always being there for my son, no matter what. Oh, and letting him do things Mommy doesn't let him do."
My follow-up question: What's the best part about it?
- "This right here -- snuggling with my boy."
What does fatherhood mean to you?