…To Be A Dad.

"Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a Dad." ~Author Unknown

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The up-side

November 8th, 2010 · 4 Comments · parenting, reflections

Although I started blogging on the premise that I was not only becoming a father but becoming a father at forty, I don’t tend to think of myself as an older Dad. I’m not really sure whether others see me as an older Dad either. I’m not even sure myself that I am an older Dad.

What is older anyway? I’m probably only about 4 or 5 years older than most of the Dads I know. And I know a few who are older than me. Hayley, who is 6 years my junior, likes to tell me re-assuring tales of friends who express surprise that I am older than she is. And she keeps a straight face throughout. Is it any wonder I married her.

So let’s just agree that forty is (theoretically at least) a good deal older than a man needs to be to start a family. So what is the up-side to starting this late?

Well, I could spout at length lots of worthy stuff about being more mature, financially stable, willing to make sacrifices and of course to give oneself more fully to fatherhood. But what springs to mind for me is something altogether less philosophical. All parents know that having children is an excuse to relive ones own youth through our children. It is an excuse to play! Our toddlers, pre-schoolers and infants all love us to play with them and there is little doubt that the unequalled joy and laughter of these times erases the memories of the sleepless nights and tantrums.

We are often obliged to spend our 20s and perhaps 30s focused on ourselves, partially through the need to establish ourselves (financially and otherwise), but also because we are still enjoying the freedom to be ourselves as adults that we acquired in our later teens. So perhaps the fun and games shared with a child in your twenties could become  just another part of that fun. (I’m guessing plenty will disagree with me there!)

Have a child when you are 25 and by the time you are 40 you are faced with a teenager who is ready to supercede you, a society that characterises you as a grumpy old man (no matter that it might be true!) and the virtual obligation to have a mid-life crisis as in the face of a growing feeling that your usefulness to those around you is approaching zero.

OK I exaggerate, but in contrast to friends who had kids a decade or more ago facing up to these mid-life issues, I find myself delaying all thoughts of uselessness as I play my way through my days with a doting 3 year old princess and an equally loving 5 year old little action man. It’s hard to feel useless when your daughter takes you by the hand and insists on cooking dinner with you. Nor can you think about a mid-life crisis when your son is making you laugh with his comic antics.

Oh yes, the day may come when my kids roll their eyes and think I’m lame, but having kids when I was 40 has undoubtedly delayed even the thought of that day for me. Yes, there’s a downside too, though I won’t explore that here, but I have to say that I have never felt more full of purpose than when I look into the eyes of my son and daughter. And that’s all the upside I need.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • radioactive tori

    I think you are on to something. I was thinking about myself going back to school and realized that when I am done, my daughter will be almost ready for college. I sort of feel like now that my kids are getting older I am now about to do the things I was supposed to have done when I was younger. I think in some ways I am just now experiencing the fears and excitement that most people felt in their 20's. Both of us seem to have found different ways to delay having to deal with our midlife issues.

    You are a wonderful dad, that is clear from the way you talk about your kids. I think they are quite lucky you decided to be an "older dad". I have a friend who was 55 when he had his baby. Compared to him you are a very young dad!
    My recent post Figuring It Out

    • Steve

      Thanks Tori. I don't feel "older", but then who does! So long as I'm keeping in good enough shape to keep up with them, take them out cycling, walking and (when we can next afford it) snowboarding, I'll be more than happy.

  • SeattleDad

    Great post Steve! I, as you know, am right there with you becoming a 1st time father at 40. Now, I get to with my little guy and it feels right. I can't tell you how many times I have been playing goofy games with him and insted of feeling like I was wasting my time, like I would have playing games of my own, I felt like it was ok, because they had a purpose.

    • Steve

      James, I knew you'd get this. 🙂 It seems to me that we so-called "older" Dads sometimes know best how to be young at heart.

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