As I mull over how to capture fatherhood in a few hundred words, my three boys (2 sons + 1 husband) writhe in response to Inspector Clouseau’s antics. It drives home my ability to delight in their pleasures though different from my own. I’m sure my father experienced a similar struggle to accept my odd predilections. Our perplexed exchange of glances before I could voice my opinions says it all.
I like to think his relationship with my sons somehow gives him male versions of myself with whom he can share more of his quantitative, scientific interests. When the boys get to calculus, I doubt they will complain about the need to take lovely curves and break them down into dull squares – as I did. I never let him attend my debate tournaments, but he enjoys AYSO soccer in a way I never will. It takes him back to my brother’s days in goal – although he was on the ice not the field.
At our wedding, the best man described my husband as “able to talk the leg off a donkey, then persuade the donkey his leg never existed.” His sons inherited the trait. With a freshly minted teen and ten-year-old, I face a decade of endless debates from the mundane to the metaphysical over breakfast. I can tackle each of them in turn, but I fear a three to one advantage may be too much. Fortunately, I share their preference for Roman ruins over Caribbean resorts, pub lunches over nouvelle cuisine, and my husband’s bread over anything bought. If I could only develop an appreciation for Star Trek and Dr. Who, I might make my way into the inner male sanctum.
Every Fathers’ Day, we join our community’s Race Against Hate in memory of a father felled by someone else’s ill-reared son. This year, as the boys charged ahead, I ambled behind with another mother left in her husband’s and son’s dust. The symbolism stuck with me. The men rush to guide the boys into their nascent adulthood, while we mothers drag our feet in a quasi-subconscious attempt to hold back time. My little men flourish in their father’s and grandfather’s loving care, but I know they still need me – as I need my dad – to explain the world as seen by those with a different constellation of chromosomes. My mom and dad team-taught me to be a spouse and a mother to boys just as my husband and I hope to help our boys grow into good spouses and fathers whether fate fills their lives (and thus ours) with a further generation of daughters or sons.