It will always be impossible for a father to ever communicate all that occurs in his parental experience. Men simply do not talk or write enough. We think and consider what to say, and then by the time we are ready to speak, we may well be walking our daughter down an aisle. After nine and a half weeks, I have many words rolling and twisting in my brain to explain the experience, but they seldom come out into the world other than when a hipster bartender sheepishly asked what fatherhood is like (he desperately hoped I was not the jaded, drunk man running from his reaponsibilties). So I write for all of those men who feel, but communicate less than all of those others who hold baby responsibilities.
Responsibility is the foundational word. As the father, I am now responsible for the safety, financial security and wellness of my family. I go to work. I need to hold that job through the storms of parenthood. I find sleep when I can and cram all of my personal needs into whatever time I can scrounge from the day and night. I ask what I can do, and I do it. I think about how my wife, our baby and our three dogs are doing during my day’s battles. I fight well, and then I begin all over again. Jiu-Jitsu is my only non-negotiable, and I keep it so, so that I remain physically and mentally healthy. I understand that the public wil never believe I do more than watch football and hold my daughter when I have to. So be it.
The reality is that I have spent a few years preparing for this time. I have no great urge to run the roads in search of more. I unplug when I am with my daughter. Television is off. I just talk to her and experience the moment, whether it be vomitous or snuggly into mutual exhaustion. I read to her. I give her everything I can offer. I am determined that she will have the power to choose her own life’s journey, but I have no desire to control the wind in her sails. She is her own Ishmael.
Fatherhood is an honour. I see no real end of this responsibility. Such a commitment can become suffocating and anxiety-producing…and I do understand why other men might run. They might run into the arms of another woman or give heed to the allure of the road. I am not that man. I may travel. I may falter in my career or misstep in a financial choice, but I have the wherewithal to navigate towards what I cherish the most: my family. I see no reason to ever abandon them in cowardess. All other passions and desires are secondary when compared to the minutes shared with person you love and the child you created.
Yes. This child will become a teenager who no longer needs us. She will have her own ideas. She will crank her music and wear the wrong clothes to instigate fury. I expect such things, and accept such things. I can only imagine how difficult it will be for any girl to grow up in a home where her parents understand and appreciate the world in which she navigates. What music might she crank that would annoy me? Elevator versions of Beethoven? What might she do to aggravate me? Study math and accounting. I look forward to the game. By then I will be 60 and retired…the music will be my chance to reconnect with the scene and the aggravation will be welcome. Game on.
Nine and a half weeks in? I am exhausted. I need a holiday and I just started back to work. I continue to lose weight and struggle to remain independent. My weekly two sessions of jiu-Jitsu flow with our obligations, and while I try my very best I can never totally be there to support my wife every night and with most appointments. So it goes…
Jiu-Jitsu…it is a rock in the channel. Today was near impossible with the work obligations and modernizations of education, but I will go with the tides and wait for the right lull. Still, I head to Class 89 tonight. Who would ever imagine that I would last 89 classes after the challenges just a year ago? I have my third competition in the horizon in February and my mom might be there. I have a seminar with Andre Galvao next week. I have a spot in Sudbury for April at the NOMAD event with John Danaher and Roger Gracie. I have made a few friends through my journey who challenge me to keep going on a daily basis, but who also offer comfort my fears with their own meanderings and kind words.
The blue belt is on the horizon. I have gained a real sensitivity to techniques and I can sense a change in my movements. The belt is but one step, but it will be the one that cements my legitimacy as a practitioner. Steps will just happen and I am no longer counting steps; only focusing on the minute steps towards improvement. I will never be a competitor, but I love the game and I can be an evangelist for what is great. Without John, Jesus would be John.