From Dad To Another
One day a master was about to go on a journey, he called his servants and entrusted his property to them. While two of his servants multiplied what was entrusted to them, the other one didn’t do so. This is a brief summary of the parable of the talents taken from the book of Luke or Matthew. Most of us are familiar with the story and have looked at with different perspective. From money, resources, skills or abilities; we have related that story to emphasize that we are responsible to what we were blessed with. Can we apply the same to our children? As we are entrusted with the lives of our kids, should we also multiply them? If God has entrusted us with the most precious thing we can ever have, shouldn’t we have the same or even greater responsibility to do so? Well, in my humble opinion, yes we do! But we don’t go on take on the instruction given to Noah to go and multiply in the literal sense. What we ought to do is add on to the life that was entrusted to us – enrich the lives of our children.
It was the summer of 2014 when our first child was born. My wife was just 7 months into her pregnancy when suddenly her water bag broke. Her doctor told her she needed to deliver the baby within 48 hours or else we can lose the baby. She received some shots to induce labor and while trying to deliver, doctors found out that the cord was wrapped on our baby’s neck, she had to go through c-section. During the first few days of our baby, we had no idea she was choking already while having milk. We just noticed she started to turn dark and luckily at that exact moment, the nurses were doing their rounds. They quickly jumped into action when we showed them our baby turning dark. That was the third time we almost lost our baby. From that moment on, I decided to look after her as much as I could. It was challenging, I had to stay up all night watching even the slightest of her breath just to make sure she was ok. When my wife awakes, I try to get in a few hours of sleep just before I go to work. It was physically tiring but for some reason all the tiredness goes away once I am back home. That was the beginning of how I felt what it was like to be a father. It is the thought of knowing that someone needs you, and so you just instinctively respond to it. Most people talk about the mother’s instinct or mother’s love but I believe there is also a version of that for the fathers. It is not just as pronounced or widely talked about because rarely will a father speak about it.
There are tons of jokes saying that men don’t grow up, or boys will be boys, or men are just boys with more expensive toys. It is because even when we grow old, we still enjoy playing little cars and animal figures, we still enjoy folding an origami, we still get excited with video games, or still have fun doing what we used to do when we were young. Perhaps we are like that for a reason, perhaps we really ought to play even as we become fathers, perhaps it is part of our nature to play so that we can do it with our children. Prior to the pandemic, I used to play Pokemon Go with my daughter. There were days where after I come home from office, I pick up my daughter and we drive around town catching Pokemons. There are raid battles that we go to, where we catch a legendary pokemon if we defeat it. To succeed, we sometimes meet other dads with their children too as we join forces to win against a strong legendary pokemon. As the pandemic came, we shifted to games more suitable for indoor. We still battle pokemons but we do it on the Nintendo Switch while staying at home. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and it doesn’t matter what matters is that we had fun!
Playing with my daughter made me realize that we can use play time to teach our kids some valuable lessons that will help them when they grow up. Whenever we lose in the games that we play, we would just keep on trying until we win. It is fun to be a father, we can fulfill our fatherly duties while doing what we naturally do – just being playful.
Quality versus Quantity. As a working dad, I spend most of the day in the office. Majority of my time awake is spent at work, therefore whenever I get home, I try my very best not to just be a present father but an available one as well. Coming home from work is not enough for me to say that I have been a good dad. I had to respond to the needs and calls of my child. A need for affection, a need for education and a need for attention. Since I cannot give her most of my time, the best I can do is make the most of the time I have for her. So aside from just playing, we do crafts together, we have story time and we have learning time together. A benefit of choosing to homeschool our daughter is that we become intentional in finding activities where we learn and really spend a meaningful and productive quality time.
Currently my work assigned me in a place where I am far from my family, it was the first time that we are away from each other for long. Thanks to technology we still find a way to have the quality time that we always have. I had to sacrifice a bit though and stay committed to spending some time with family. Every day as the clock strikes six, I literally rush home as fast as I can so I can go online and do a video call with my family. I set up my laptop for a video call while preparing my dinner simultaneously. We do this on a daily basis, through this video call we have dinner together, play together and still learn together. Being away from them doesn’t take me away from my duties as a father, especially when it comes to educating our daughter. We decided to homeschool her together and so we should do it also together. On weekends we have our online class too so I have to prepare the lesson as well during the week.
Truth be told, sometimes it gets exhausting too. Living alone far from family, I had to do everything by myself. After our video call, I still need to do my daily chores – washing the dishes, doing the laundry and others. One thing we want to instill to our daughter is that we wanted to let our daughter know that we, her parents are always available for hew whenever she needs us. We wanted her to have the confidence that her family is just there for her. We know that instilling this to her will be beneficial for her someday especially if time comes she faces challenges in the future.
One day our daughter was playing with her friends; and at this time of pandemic, playing with friends is such a rare incident. So when it was about time for our video call, we decided to postpone it a bit to give her more time playing with her friends. To our surprise, our daughter said she wants to do the video call and end her play time with her friends. We were so moved be her gesture and it made all the time and effort that we spend connecting with her worth it.
Even though our daughter is still very young, we are aware that all the little things that we do are not for today’s progress but for her future self – a character that she’ll bring for life. This is why we never take our parental duties for granted, specially my fathering duty. We are laying the foundation for her success and we do not want to leave her development to chance.
I know I am not a perfect dad, but I know I can be the dad who my child exactly needs. This applies as well to you. You may not be perfect but you are exactly who your child needs. Don’t settle to be just a present dad, be an available dad. Even if you’re not physically present, you can still be available for your children, all the words, love, appreciation, affection, care and lesson you gave them will be a voice inside their heads and a source of courage in their hearts.
If you’re the available dad, I salute you for all the hidden hard work that you do. From a dad to another, a toast for celebrating the efforts and rewards that comes with it.