It’s good but it’s not right…
There are some things in life that are wrong, even when they’re right. Things that you know should happen, are appropriate and even to be expected, but you still don’t need to welcome them.
Its birthday season in the Wall household. My eldest was 9 last week and the youngest is 6 this week. As part of the celebrations, my wife has spent months transforming the office into a new bedroom, so the girls – who have previously had to share – now have their own room. The rooms look fantastic and the girls are extremely excited.
So much so that last Friday I went upstairs to find both bedroom doors shut. And I was told that if I wanted access I had to knock, wait to be addressed and then possibly given permission to enter.
I understand that this is the whole point of a room to yourself: to be able to shut the door. I also know that my children are still playing with imaginary dragons and not chasing illicit ones.
But it still didn’t make me feel good.
And then at my eldest’s party, she found herself the centre of a tug of love drama. I heard one 8 year old suitor saying to another “I love her more than you do” just moments after his mum had told me how he agonised over the number of kisses to put in the card. My daughter was unperturbed, far more passionate about her share of the party cocktail sausages – and no doubt holding the view that obviously the coolest boys in her class want to be her boyfriend, why wouldn’t they? She has a confidence that I never had, at 9 or 39.
Again, wonderful, cute and expected stuff. But it left a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Now don’t get me wrong. My children are remarkably tactile and affectionate. They hug me, cuddle up to me on the sofa, tell me they love me, tell me all about their days and demand bedtime stories and kisses. They do not complain or make retching noises when I walk naked from shower to bedroom (my wife, on the other hand…) They have not yet discovered the embarrassment of having a dad that will no doubt emerge in the coming years.
So I have nothing to complain about, do I? I don’t even yearn for the baby days, when carrying and cuddling was the main focus of my days.
But when I see the doors shut on me, and when I’m forced to accept the possibility that one day there will be another man in their life, then just a small part of me dies. A part that should die, a part of me that in a sense I’m glad has died, but is none the less painful for it.
What do I do? Well, to man up – in the current vernacular – I need to accept the inevitable, to embrace the wake and not wallow in the worry about the future. After all, what my gorgeous girls need is not a dad who worries about his place in their lives, but one who concentrates on developing their place in the world. And at least I’ll probably always be the one they turn to when they need help paying for it…
Mark Wall is a happily-married father of two who recently took a slight change in his career path – turning him in to a home-working dad. He wrote a beautiful blog post about the experience recently on his blog – “The reality of being a stay at home dad“. You can follow him on Twitter, too.