Forwarding Fatherhood

It’s been a week since the 6th annual Dad 2.0 Summit concluded, and to say I’m missing being in the presence of others who advocate for engaged fatherhood like I am passionate about would be an understatement. I first attended Dad 2.0 last year when it was held in Washington, D.C., and I knew right away I would be a regular at future summits. This year was particularly exciting for me, since I got to introduce my friend and fellow dad, David Atkins, to Dad 2.0. I’ll write more about the summit and my experience this year, however I wanted to honor a commitment I made to David at the summit.

 

#DadVoices

Last year, at the summit, an impromptu event was created, called Dad Slam. It was an opportunity for people to share things they’d written, were in the process of writing, or anything in between. Think of it like a poetry slam for dad bloggers. When it was announced last year, I was inspired to write a piece called, “Father.” I didn’t share it last year, and got an opportunity at this year’s Dad Voices (apparently Dad Slam was just too much of an invitation for all kinds of inappropriate and very hilarious puns – c’mon, we are dads after all.) Afterwards, David asked me if I was going to post it, and I agreed, even though my inner critic was arguing that it lost something in translation when it wasn’t read. Nonetheless, here it is.

Father

Father.

One word. Two syllables.

Infinite possibilities.

A scary endeavor,

Because mine was never

Present.

A single mom, doing work.

Two and three jobs to make sure food was on the table,

And a roof, over our heads.

Making a home filled with laughter and love.

Instilling values to help me rise above

The challenges and obstacles life would throw my way,

We were always connected, even if far away.

And then came the day when I learned

It was my turn,

To be a father.

Damn.

You see, I knew how to be a man,

And a husband, and a son.

But I had no guide for what a father was,

‘Cuz though I saw them on TV,

I knew that wasn’t reality.

At least, not mine.

So I had to shift my frame of mind,

To understand, what I would want in that man.

I knew I couldn’t go back and change what had been,

Yet I held the power to create what could be,

What would be, for my child. You see

Papa was a rolling stone…

No, not happening in my home.

I had learned the difference between presents,

And presence.

So I promised myself that the greatest gifts I would provide my daughter,

Wouldn’t be wrapped and tied with pretty little bows.

They’d be lessons and memories, and she would always know,

That she was loved.

Unconditionally.

So that years from now, when she’s all grown,

Her story about father, won’t be full of woe.

She will stand there, tall and proud

And share her message with the crowd.

Reminding them, to do their best, with what they have,

In that moment. And each moment going forward.

You see, the greatest truth that I have learned,

Is that ‘father’ isn’t a noun, it’s a verb.