Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Worries of the Instant Hero

I was lucky to become an instant hero, nine years ago; and then, again, seven years ago. I became a hero the moment my boys were born.

You see, I was the best thing going, from the second they opened their eyes -- the strongest, smartest, funniest guy they had ever seen. Presto!

Then, after the first week or so, I became The Mysterious Adventurer who would step out into the dark of the morning -- into the mists of a world they had never seen -- and, then, who'd reappear at dinner time, smile and toss the lads into the air and snuggle with them and read them stories before putting them to bed. I'd sing a lullaby I'd written, just for them. I was the break in the daily routine; I was the goodnight kiss; I was the one who could help them defy gravity, effortlessly.

During my work day absence, their mom would deal with the crying fits and the day's majority of diapers and the naps and the mealtime struggles. She'd do all the hard stuff, then Daddy would whoosh through the door and prance about like a victorious knight come home to lead a merry parade of three around the living room.

This was it, the boys undoubtedly thought. This is a man. This is what I need to become, some day. I was the big deal. Mom was the one whose presence they started to take for granted -- whose comfort they needed like air -- but I was a day at the circus; the font of knowledge; the personal carnival ride.

But now what? Now, they are getting older. They are in school. They can read. They can question things.

Now my real work begins, at just the time when a lot of dads simply put things on auto-pilot and rest on their position on the hero's throne, beer in hand, one leg dangling over the armrest, demanding respect for simply having been half of the reproductive process.

See, I want to keep being a hero to those boys. Now, however, the time is coming during which I will have to earn what was once automatic. Soon they will probably be taller and stronger than I am. Soon, they will venture into realms in which I used to be the authority -- the final word -- and they will find they disagree with some of my philosophies. We'll argue, from time to time.

I won't be their automatic hero for long, so now's when I have to really start questioning what kind of a man I am, or I might turn into an affectionate joke told between brothers and under rolling eyes.

I'm not one for some of the popular philosophies these days -- the ones that are back-loaded in order to make things easier (think of yourself first, etc.). If I care about anyone's opinions, it's the opinions of my sons and my wife. But where my sons are concerned, I want them to remember their father as the best man they ever knew. I want them to be better than I ever was, but I want them to be able to say that I was a man, all-in-all, who always deserved their admiration.

On my Hats and Rabbits CD, in the "thanks" section, I wrote: "To Joe and Will, for finally giving me something to prove. You'll understand what that means if you are ever lucky enough to become dads."

If I live strong of mind and body, go down fighting and earn the respect of my sons, in their memories and in their hearts, I will have lived quite a life, indeed. But anything worth having needs to be earned. We all know that.

They make it harder, those boys; but, they make me better for the struggle. I owe them everything and I intend to pay my debt.

1 comment:

  1. Really good post Mr.Matt it was very powerful of how you feel and how all dads should feel. Knowing you though I can't help but feel you put a cape on while writing this just saying. P.S I made my first official post today on my newish blog