As I approach my 8th month of pregnancy there is one question that I can't seem to let go....I go to bed thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it....and during the few breaks I get through out the day, I think about it!
It seems a simple enough question....It almost seems silly when I say it out loud....It seems as though it would be common sense. However, I think until now, I never even considered it to be a question that anyone would even ask...but here it is, one of the main focuses of my life.
"When does a "father" really become a father and even more a dad?"
Now without revealing too much of my personal life (because we know I never do that).....I am playing the waiting game with this question right now. With an un-planned pregnancy now coming close to an end I'm flooded with array of emotions and questions. Being a planner by nature, I want to know what the next few years of my life will be like (if not just not the next few months.) However, unfortunately I have been put into a position where I have absolutely no control...and for me to lose control is tough!!
I am waiting to see if my little girl will have a "father" or what I believe a fathers role should be. Being as emotional and open as I am, I have made my situation known to people who have asked and I have been given more advice than I know what to do with. So here I am trying to sort it all out it my head.
Now with most things in life, you can settle an argument of definition by going to Wikepedia or Websters dictionary. There it is in black and white. However, even these 2 websites can't agree on a term for "father".
However at www.thefreedictionary.com it is in black and white.....the definition I am currently experiencing:
'A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child'
So is that what it is? Is that really what being a "father" comes down to. The fact that 2 people are physically able to make a child. I have to believe a fathers role has to be much much more.....otherwise the statistics of children growing up without fathers wouldn't be so shocking.....
Did you know:
-Over 70% of prison inmates grew up without a father
-Kids who exhibited violent behavior at school were 11 times as likely not to live with their fathers
-Children in single-parent families tend to score lower on standardized tests and to receive lower grades in school
-72% percent of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers
-63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
-90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
-80% of rapists come from fatherless homes
-75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes
-Saddam Hussein, Adolph Hitler, Jack the Ripper, Charley Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jeffrey Dahmer all grew up without fathers
Stats like this prove that the "father" role has to be more than just about the birds and the bees lesson we learned in middle school, right?
I mean I was a lucky little girl, who grew up with one of the most amazing fathers in the world. A dad who at the age of the 32, I can still call to help me change a light bulb or help with my car. In fact, some of my greatest childhood memories were just of my father and me spending time alone. My daddy was always there for me....he took me to breakfast every year on my birthday (even to this day), he was the one that took me to get my ears pierced for the first time when I was 5 years old, he was the one that stood on the side of high school track and encouraged me of every lap of those 2 miles I ran to finish strong...he was amazing. This is why it's so hard for me to imagine my little girl growing up without that!!
(my dads favorite pic of himself...with his watermelon he grew)
After doing much research (just trying to make sense of it all) and speaking to many guy friends that have found themselves in the same position as I am...I have been told that the "father" role hits a man when he actually sees the child, I guess like a sense of proof (as though my ridiculous size belly and 8 months of physical inability to do ANYTHING wasn't proof enough). This must be somewhat true, because every "I'm pregnant and alone" website I can find all have the same quote at the top of the page:
"A woman becomes a mother when she's pregnant. A man becomes a father when he holds his child."
So is that my answer? Is that when my little Lilly will be loved...when she's actually made her debut to this world??? If that was a 100% guaranteed...my problems with anxiety, depression and sleepless nights would be over. I would have a time and date set in my planner to have a "father" for Lilly. However, as sad as it is, this can't always be the case....because if it was there wouldn't be so many "fatherless homes" to extract the above statistics from.
So when does a father REALLY actually become a father??? The weird thing about this is I now notice more than ever how many men do decide to step up and full-fill there father role. I find myself looking more closely at the shopping carts with babies in them at Wal-Mart and the Grocery Store to see if there is a father pushing them. I find myself looking inside cars next to me while sitting on the highway to see if the men have baby seats in the back. I find myself lingering in the baby isle at Target to see what type of men stop by to grab a package of diapers. As unconventional as it seems, even the most unattractive men have become just a bit more attractive to me as I see them head to the check-out isle with the baby items, or in their baby Bjorn carrier at the store. Instead of rich and good looking, being a caring, present, loving Father is now at the top of my list of criteria when asked what I'm looking for in a man.
After all my observations (yes maybe a little creepy...but it's research) I've come to realize that you can't tell who will and won't step up as a father. Some of the dirtiest and most ghetto men are the ones in the baby isle grabbing the package of baby wipes while some of great CEO's in our city couldn't tell you what a Boppy Pillow is.
So really there is no answer and really it's what I've been told and honestly known all along....I won't know if Lilly's father will want to be involved in her life until she's actually here. It is a waiting game....a long, emotional, draining waiting game. And the truth is, even if he decides he doesn't want to be involved in her little life, that doesn't mean I won't or can't find another man to fill that position one day. I have no doubt that somewhere in my future my knight in shining armor is waiting to be there for not only me but my kids as well. However, until then I will just relish in the fact that I can always count on her being dressed perfectly (because I'll be the one doing it...you know a man doesn't know how to correctly put a bow in her hair), and an awesome big brother who will give her plenty of "boy perspective" for now!
So maybe you do have it right, www.thefreedictionary.com. Maybe the physical part is the only definition of Father....however, that's not the definition of "Daddy" and for now I guess I have to be patient and let Lilly come up with that definition on her own (and cross my fingers that her definition is just half of what I grew up with....because if it is, she will be one lucky little girl.)
"Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad." ~Author Unknown