by AJ Nel, a labour lawyer and partner in a recruitment firm , dad to two sons, Damian (6) and Ethan (4) who share a love of fly-fishing. Find him on Twitter
I remember as if it was yesterday, the cold winter morning when I for the first time realised what being responsible for the life of another means. I am pretty sure most fathers learn this through the same lesson… the panicked overcautious drive home from the hospital with your new-born. Then there’s the chasing to the emergency room at three in the morning when your three month old turns out to have “only” a mild tummy bug.
But the blessing so much outweighs the responsibility, the gift of seeing life through their eyes. They have such exuberance for life and want to do everything and do it now! Just yesterday we were cooking, building puzzles and creating Meccano monsters at the same time. The language they use tells you exactly how they’re thinking – “clothes live in a cupboard, dad”. They believe they can do any- and everything and show appreciation and awe with total honesty. Nobody can forget the first time they took their toddler to the zoo, the amazement at every animal they see; the exited shouts and the never-ending questions. They really do want to understand everything and Google-enabled parents they really believe we know everything. They give such passionate hugs and when they cry, you cry with them.
In the end being a father is best surmised in the words of Kent Nerburn:
“Until you have a son of your own… you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honour that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.”