Making Memories – A Father’s Legacy
Men are reclaiming their role as fathers a role the baby boomer generation exchanged for a material ideology. More and more men are attending Antenatal classes with their wives, becoming intimately involved in the birth of their son’s and daughters. When my brother’s first child was being born, the men gathered at a local drinking hole in preparation of the imminent celebration. The revolution in men within a single decade saw me dressed in a hospital gown alongside my wife at the birth of our first son. As a new generation of men, we have reclaimed our role, become partners with our wives in the life altering of birth and are recognizing the unique strengths we bring into our new family union. Possibly our greatest strength is in creating memories. Memories that feed into our children’s spirits leaving a legacy of the bond fathering brings.
A memory created recently was one of running across the soft wet sea sand, chased by my two year old son, giggling as he launched a bucket of muddy sea water over me, I had a deep sense of knowing that we were creating a special memory. The game was writing a happy line into our journal of memories. This memory would carry me through the experience of fatherhood. His would authenticate his belonging as a son. We were taking snapshot in time of father and son at play. Our cavorting on the beach was a time of bonding, one of many in our journey of discovering each other, a son enjoying the safety of our bond. I concede that at two year olds are fairly easy to bond with; all they need is a playmate. But this trip was more intentional. It was another opportunity to build into our relational foundation. A foundation that I trust will become a silent anchor through the testing changes ahead when he becomes a teenager.
This was an intentional water fight in that it was my son’s second birthday. For this milestone in his life I had decided to give him a special gift, a gift beyond the plastic gadgets and fluffy toys two year olds get. I wanted to give myself to him, a whole chunk of time for us to spend together, just him and me. As the sun cast warm rays across a sandy beach, we splashed around in circles laughing at each other. A brief moment that seemed frozen in time, just for the two of us, father and a son.
My own childhood is scattered with memories of special times together, like tiny spots of light in the night sky. Memories of a fishing trip with my own father and two brothers. Bedding down under the stars with the gentle wash of breakers lulling us to sleep. Waking up on a remote beach and having to fry eggs on a spade because we had forgotten the pan. Memories of shared excitement as my brother strained against the one that didn’t get away. The taste of exhilaration as my Dad taught me to catch an octopus, feeling its suckers clinging to my arm. Childhood memories whose sights, sounds and smells are still fresh in my memory today, so many years on.
Now it’s my turn to create some of the same memories for my son. Memories that are like slapping wonderfully bright brush strokes across the canvas of his life. Intended memories, created by a father as a gift to his son. Now it’s our turn. Within the pressure that adult life demands, we constantly have to make choices to take the opportunities afforded us and intentionally direct ourselves to invest ourselves into our children’s lives.
Within these opportunities, the joy of being a father is in the adventure we are able to create out of the ordinary everyday activities. Opportunities to play a significant role in our child’s life, creating adventures that turn a visit to the beach into a wild water fight. Bike rides into a high speed grand prix race and a regular garden swing into a death-defying circus trapeze. Adventures that create memories, building bonds that last a lifetime. This is the joy, the privilege the opportunity of fatherhood.