I’ve been a dad for nine years, here’s what I know
It’s been almost exactly nine years since the world exploded and I stopped being whoever I was then and became whoever I am now. Reborn, you might say, though cluelessly rather than religiously enriched. I didn’t meet God but I was visited permanently by Gabriel (my son). And I’ve spent most of my time since trying to figure out exactly who I’ve become, or what I’ve turned into. In the broadest sense I’m “someone’s dad” (actually two peoples’ dad as of six years ago) and that’s probably the simplest catch-all description for who I am, both societally and specifically as a human. And possibly spiritually. And perhaps metaphorically in some sense too, I expect.
Where I live – having swapped the city for a town – the kind of kid-friendly socialising I do, it’s all mostly on account of being someone’s dad. And though for a certain milieu “someone’s dad” is a cruel barb to suggest, ridiculously, that you’ve lost your sexual allure (100 per cent the case), once in a while it’s a moniker you can be boastful of too. Like when your child does you proud by producing a picture so impressive, so moving, that they can’t possibly have done it themselves, or when they demonstrate a very suspicious bout of generosity that defies their usual shriekiness.
So I embrace it (I have to). Being someone’s dad is my primary role, my defining factor – and despite my best efforts to adorn myself in creative magnificence, it’s most likely going to be the grand total of any legacy I leave behind too.
What I’ve also realised in the past few years is that once you’ve got two children, the nature/nurture argument goes out of the window. A ridiculous debate, a moot point. I know this because my parenting style has been incredibly consistent throughout this insane/mundane ‘journey’ (i.e. entirely in tune with my actual, confused personality), yet I’ve one child who struts into the world like you should be grateful to have her (and fucking hell, you really probably should be) and another who peeps apologetically from behind the curtain in much need of coaxing.
You could say, if you were the kind of prick that would say this, that they’re the perfect embodiment of John Milton’s 1667 quote about our human tendency to make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven – further assertion that the world will always be filtered through different lenses, dependent on specific chemical cocktails that can’t be accurately deduced nor replicated – or you could just shrug your shoulders and accept that you’ve got no idea what’s going on either.
You just know that you’re glad to be here with them, playing the part of their dad. And, with a bit of luck, not completely unconvincingly either.