Being a father is something I didn’t want to miss in my life. It took a while before I felt ready and for a few years I worried that the chance would pass me by. Being ready was not about having an established career, or knowing how to be a good parent… For me, being ready happened when I realized that I had healed enough and now I wanted what being a father would do to me.
I was so lucky when my daughter was born a year and a half ago, and my experiences with her inspired me to write these words. I hope she will always know how much it means to me to be her father. Though she is my inspiration here, I believe we could all stand to hear this.
To My Daughter
You’ll experience many pressures and expectations in life.
You’ll be told to be smartest, or prettiest, whatever the cost.
Told to be righteous, be humble, be proud, or be strong,
but whatever you do, keep your place in the throng.
Don’t step out of line.
And fulfill all our plans.
Your life isn’t yours,
It’s out of your hands.
Just strive for perfection,
It’s all that we ask.
And do this and do that,
Oh! And just one more last task.
But instead, my dear child
Though I don’t have your answers
I’ll try to shed light
Life isn’t a battle,
But sometimes you’ll fight.
Sometimes you’ll win,
Still others you’ll flight
You are as smart as anyone,
As pretty, as true.
Those who say otherwise
Are lying to you.
You’ll never have all the answers
And sometimes it’s just hard.
Often you’ll find
You’re all alone in the yard.
It’s okay to be lost, feel hurt, and let down.
Just feel your way through,
Till you’re done with that frown.
Trust in your self
You’ll know what you need.
The secret of life
In one little deed.
In this world of lefts and rights,
Ups, downs, and hold-on-tights,
There’s one thing you need never do,
And that’s strive for perfection
For perfection is you.
Shortly after I wrote that poem we discovered an unexpected next child, a boy this time. As I write now, he is still 5 weeks out from when we get to meet and hold him. Yet he has already inspired another poem. Again, I believe these words are for all of us. I am very excited and a bit overwhelmed at the thought of this little one about to really make his presence known.
To My Son
A man is beholden to Country, they say
Faith, Honor, and Duty
Come what may
A leader, a servant, he’ll never give in
And showing emotion, well that’s worse than sin.
He’s tough, he’s strong, and he’s ever so proud
This way though, he’s lost himself in the crowd.
Throughout your whole life
You’ll be told what to do
But who you will be, son
Is just up to you
You will decide where your loyalties lie
Who deserves your affection,
For what you would die
And when you determine
You’re wasting your time
Give notice, take leave
To do else is a crime
Seek not for love, approval, or fame
You’ll miss your true path, a really big shame
A man guides, he shapes, and supports,
Helping those in his charge
Find love of all sorts.
Your domain is not women, not children, nor land
But each these you’ll touch with warm, gentle hand
You need not cajole
To make it begin
Just do what you love
Let others join in
Don’t hide your pain
And never your light
You’ll draw others to you
They won’t even fight
Your love will touch many
In all that you do
If first to your self, son
You always are true
My life would not have been complete without you.