As a younger man when people asked me if I had children, I always used to laugh out loud. However, behind that laugh was something else. I couldn’t imagine looking after a child. It was terrifying. The idea of a small individual being completely reliant on you to survive is crazy. It still is to be honest.
It wasn’t just keeping a child alive that was scary, it was also the idea of being a good father. My father was terrible. You know that’s not really fair. It’s hard to be terrible when you weren’t even there. As a child I was always excited to hear that he was going to visit. I can’t imagine that he came over more than twice a year but it still meant a lot to me. Yet as I got older I started to realise that in reality I wasn’t that important to him. That’s the kind of father I feared I would become. Surely he didn’t aim to be a bad dad. I’m sure he had plans on how he would spend time with me, or how he would support my mother. But when it came down to it he was a let down. How could I be sure that I would be a good dad? That worried me endlessly. More than money, more than all the early nappy changes, the idea that I could unconsciously be anything like him terrified me.
When we started trying for a baby I hoped this fear would subside and it did to a point. My mind was full of all the practical things to do with looking after a child. Being a good father wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. I think this is where I found the answer to all my stress. I can’t speak to whether my dad was a good person in general or not. I can only speak to how he was as a father and I honestly think when it came down to it he just didn’t want to put the effort in. Because he didn’t love me? Perhaps. The one thing I know about myself is that the moment my child was born I knew I would always be there for him. Maybe my father didn’t feel that, maybe he’s incapable of that emotion and if so I can’t hold that against him, but I know I felt the total opposite to that. And I think that’s all you can do. Trust yourself and go with your feelings. The feelings I have for my son have reassured me that while I can’t see into the future, anyone who feels the way I do about him can never be a truly bad father. Things may not always go to plan, people change for the better or worse, but the love I feel for him will never disappear.