“Are you ready to be a father?”
I remember being peppered with this question from the moment our friends and family found out we were expecting until the days leading to your birth. It was a question I tried to find answers for—thinking that perhaps as your mum’s due date nears, I’d be able to answer.
Your mum and I have set up your nursery. We scoured every checklist available and read as many articles as our waking hours permitted around preparing for babies. We’ve also stocked up baby products like diapers in amounts we thought would have been enough (but eventually realised were never gonna be enough).
All of these, we’ve done in preparation for your arrival. But the truth is, despite doing all that, I thought perhaps it wasn’t really helping me get “ready.”
I pondered that question a lot. And that led me to think that if I am not sure I am ready to become a father, how do I even become a good one? As the months rolled by and your mum entered the last trimester, I asked myself: Is it enough to clothe, clean, and feed you?
And with that question came a wave of more questions that I cannot help but wonder about: What interests do I nurture in you? Which school do I send you to? Which enrichment centres do we enrol you to? I even asked your mum these questions and she consoled (or maybe reprimanded) me: “relax, she isn’t even born yet!”
And she’s right. You have not been born yet. But the more I think about these questions, the more I realise that it seems there are so many things I haven’t yet considered. “Am I even cut out for this?” I thought and thought constantly. Until one day, you were born.
There was no longer time to answer those questions. You arrived so quickly and almost unexpectedly. Your arrival was not when we thought you’d come. It was supposed to be one of those pre-natal checks, yet the next thing we know, you’re going to have to be delivered on that very day.
Your first cry took my breath away. And it was at that moment when I first held you, that I realised it doesn’t matter what questions I have, and that there are to wonder about. What matters is that I know: for anything and everything, my reason and my answer, from now on, is you.
My reason and my answer is you.
British poet and clergyman, Robert South, said, “If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.”
I may not have been ready, and perhaps there was no way I can be ready anyway. But if there’s anything that I know now, no matter what it takes: whatever it is that I can do and give, I will for you. Because that’s all that matters.
I don’t have to know if I am a good father, or if I am even good enough. I’m not a lawyer or doctor. I don’t have a PhD or any achievements worth boasting about. I don’t know if you’ll be embarrassed to have a father like me.. I guess we will find out in the future. For now, I only have to know that I am doing everything I can and more for you so that you can be assured that daddy loves you—I always will.
Even when you wee on me when I’ve just changed your diapers.
Even when you scream like you’re being tortured because you’re hungry but proceed to spit out your milk anyway.
Even when you get cranky because you refuse to sleep despite being awake for so many hours.
Even when I want to hold your hand in the park but you claim you’re a big girl and don’t want to.
Even when I catch you smiling on your phone and you bat away my question of what the boy’s name is while blushing.
Even when we argue over your university choices. Or when you wear that skirt that shows a bit too much skin for my liking. Or when you come home much later than I asked you to.
And even when the time comes that you start thinking that I am not a good father—as most youths at some point in their lives do—daddy will love you no matter what because the reason I am a father is you. And my answer to being a good father is you.
I look forward to Father’s Day and waking up every morning because of you
You give me so much reason to love. Better yet, you give me so much more reason to live.
From the way you curl up and rest your head against my chest while drinking the bottle, to the way you coo and converse with me in your beautiful babbling.
Even if you don’t smile when you’re awake. In fact, you even carry a mean frown that pops up at random times.
But you make my everyday special in your own little way.
Just like when you smiled back in all your gummy, unbridled glory when I said in parentese how much your mum and I love you.
I’m looking forward to watching you grow into an independent, intelligent, woman who will make her mark on this world, moving mountains in the process to do so. I will support you in your interests and endeavours, whether that’s attending your first recital or cheering you on in a soccer game (no promises I won’t get over-passionate, though). I will endure your anger when I stick to my guns even though you think you know better. I will proudly tell my neighbours, other diners at the hawker centre, or anyone who’s willing to listen to stories on all of the things you have accomplished. I will celebrate you in everything you do because you are the light that reminds me of all that is good in my life, and in this world.
Until then, let me celebrate this first Father’s Day—a day that would not be for me, if not for you. You may be too young to actively gift me anything but even when you’ve grown, know that even if you do not get me anything, having you as my child is more than enough. No father has ever had a better gift. I love you because you are my child. And because you are my child that I can be a father. I cannot promise that I will be the best, but for you, my child, I’ll do and give my best.
Read more: An open letter to the dad who feels guilty for working too much