I’m not a writer, and I never was one other than when I had to be for school and work assignments. However, reading Etan Thomas’ book “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge” made me want to write about being a father, just like countless celebrities did in contribution to his book. The book is certainly the inspiration for this blog, however, being a student of hip hop, I felt it appropriate to pay homage to legendary emcee Edo.G and his classic “Be A Father To Your Child” by naming it after how the song starts. I think that connecting the book and the song is appropriate due to the fact that they both have the ultimate message: “Be There”. To stay on the topic of hip hop for another second, another song worth paying homage to is Talib Kweli’s song “Joy”, for two reasons. One is that Talib is one of the guys who contributed to Etan’s book, and another is that his song is how I made the announcement of my son’s birth on my facebook page. I posted the link to the youtube and wrote “if you want to know whats been going on for me since 2:28pm yesterday, listen to this song.”
I think I always knew that being a father would be a special thing, and it took becoming one to truly validate this. Before becoming one myself, my first glimpse into this reality was watching it happen for Eroc, who among other things is an exceptional photographer and a nasty emcee from the group Foundation Movement, but more importantly is the truest friend I have besides my wife, and one of the best fathers I know. Before my own son, his son was the youngest baby I have ever held, just a couple of hours old. I still remember that day like yesterday. First it was the nervousness of waiting to get the news, and then getting the text from him telling me it happened, the room number of the hospital he was in, and to come see my nephew. Of course I loved seeing the baby, but seeing Eroc in his first few hours of fatherhood was just as meaningful. That pride in being a father was abundantly exuding from him in every movement he made.
Some people say this about sports, but I think fatherhood is the ultimate bonding opportunity for men, at least for those who are fortunate enough to experience it. I don’t know whether to call it a club or a fraternity or whatever, but there’s something bonding about fatherhood. Etan wrote about feeling the bond of fatherhood when passing another father pushing a stroller and exchanging a look. My son wasn’t even out of the hospital yet the first time I felt the bond. To get to my wife’s room you had to pass the nursery, and my wife and son had to be there a few days longer than we had expected, so I had to be in and out because father’s hours were 6am-10pm. One day I was walking by the nursery and saw a guy standing in the exact same place I had been only hours earlier, looking through the window at his child the same way I had been looking at mine before he was moved from the nursery to be with my wife. This guy and I exchanged a quick look, and that was my first time sharing the bond with someone.
Another aspect of this fraternity that I’ve gotten a lot of experience with as a rookie dad is the phenomenon of older dads you come across feeling as if it’s their duty to share some wisdom with you, even though you’re complete strangers. It’s usually the same message, along the lines of “cherish every moment, because before you know it your son will be a teenager and things will be different.” One situation like this stands out beyond the rest, for a reason that is somewhat sad. It was the week of my brother’s wedding, and we were at the airport going back (to what I call) home for the wedding. My son was 20 months and for him this meant two things, one was that he enjoyed practicing his mastery of words and language, and the other is that he had become infatuated with anything big that goes – trucks, trains, busses, and of course, airplanes. We were at the gate waiting for boarding to start, and my son was looking out the window and yelling as loud as he could “airplane!…truck!…big truck!…airplane!” at all of the planes, fuel trucks, and luggage trucks he saw. Several people were watching him with amusement, but one guy sitting two seats over from me had an uneasy look on his face and I wondered why. After a few moments he finally came out and said it…he told me that his kids are now teenagers, and that he missed a lot of stuff because he has the kind of job where he always has to travel for work. That’s why he was alone in the airport on a random Wednesday. I forget what I ended up saying back to him, but I remember not really knowing what to say.
That’s going to wrap up this introductory post. I’m not sure where I’ll go from here or how often I’ll write, but hopefully other people will connect with this post in one way or another.