Had I known it was this much fun, I would’ve started sooner. I was barely out of college when Ginger arrived. Well, “barely” is stretching it a bit. I graduated in ’95 and Ginger was born in ’97.
He had everything, I thought. He was the father of three children, and he was happily married. When he turned sixty, I asked him what he would do differently in his life if he could do it again. What would he become or have? His response overwhelmed me, since it had little to do with wealth or fame. He said, “I would have had more children, even if we had to adopt them. My children have been my greatest joy and fulfillment in life.”
Nowadays, more and more people are choosing to be “child-free” and more power to them. Still, I can’t help but think, like this father who thinks back over fatherhood, that my children “made my mistakes moot.” This goes back to what I wrote about New Orleans: children are the celebration of humanity. They are an admission of imperfection. They are a hope for something better, but an acceptance that life is not totally in our control. Conventional wisdom says that men feel more imprisioned by their kids than liberated by the experience of fatherhood, but I’m beginning to find fellow fathers who don’t just want to be around their children — they fight for them. Not all men feel this way, of course. Not all fathers have taken a chance to get to know their kids. But, those that have love their children dearly. Not only that, but I would venture to say that, of the fathers who become involved, they would surprise their pre-child self. I know I would. 10 years ago I had no clue what it meant to be a father. Probably because I was just growing out of being an angry son, I couldn’t understand the frustration, joy, amazement and humilty that my own father must have felt. Children teach us our limits, but that is freedom, not oppression.