To the Dads

To the Dads,

Let me take a moment to remind you how important you are.

I’m sure you’ve had flashes of it, the practical importance of the hands on help, the cuddles, the giggles and secret jokes between you and your kids… but sometimes in amongst all the busyness you might miss the enormity of those moments.

You likely grew up in a time where ‘boys don’t cry’ and we should ‘toughen them up’. You likely were told to quit it or cut it out when your heart ached, or to pull it together when you needed to be held. Maybe over time your walls went up. Maybe it changed you, even if you were loved beyond measure, to grow up  when ‘good’ meant quiet or stoic, not sad, not vulnerable, not needing more.

And maybe your walls get in the way sometimes, when you try to connect to those close to you. Maybe they divide you and your wife, or even the parts of who you are. Maybe they’ve been there so long that you fail to notice them, until someone breaks them down just enough for you realize that it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. That you’re worth it just as much in your angst as your joy.

Your kids are building right now, Dads, they’re building themselves. Allow them to chip away at your walls with you, so they don’t feel the need to build their own. Every hug, every ounce of compassion and connection, every ‘are you ok?’ ‘it’s ok to feel like that’, every ‘I love you’ helps shape them. Every time they feel like you’re their safe place, where it’s ok to be soft even if the world feels hard, moulds them into someone to be proud of.

You see they learn a lot from you, and most of it happens when you don’t think they’re watching.

Your sons are watching you and learning what it means to be a man. Over the years the world and their peers will bombard them with images, ideas and falsehoods, but right now, when they look at you, you’re it. You’re their first example of the richness of growing up. In you they see strength, love, commitment, hard work, laughter, and romance. Let them see the hand holding and the arms around your wife or partner. Let them see the thoughtful gestures between you and the dancing in the kitchen or snuggles on the couch.

Every time you help in the home your sons learn a little about responsibility, every time you treat someone with respect they learn a little about integrity, every time you show them how precious they are, even if they might be driving you mad in that moment, you show them the fierceness and beauty of love.

Your daughters are learning about men from you. Before the friends and the boyfriends, TV shows and romance novels they see you. They see how you live your life, treat their mother (or your partner), and value yourself and them. They learn about body image from remarks you make, about true compliments when you see the wonders in them, and from hugs that ask for nothing. Because as they grow up they will be flattered, and the authenticity of your interactions with them will ground them. They will hurt, as we all do, and they will remember the strength and love you showed them and accept nothing less from those around them.

Life is busy, especially with work, and sometimes the conversations, connections, board games and adventures feel like they may take the last out of you at the end of a long day. But remember that these aren’t small things for your little ones. These are their memories. Those bedtime stories, lego building, bush walks, sword fights, star gazing or cubby houses will feel all the more rich to both of you as time passes, and it does pass oh so quickly. One day, all too soon, they’ll be too busy for silly games or adventure stories read by lamp light. One day they wont want to hold your hands as you jump on the trampoline, and they wont need that push on the swing.

And now, the time that they do? That matters. You matter. So much more than you realize.

They’re building themselves right now out of moments Dads, and your moments with them hold it all together.

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Copyright 2013 Nirvana Dawson

Happy Birthday to Us

 “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

My Baby Boy,

This day, almost a year ago, I was awaiting the birth I didn’t want, for the child I desperately did. Like many things in life, it didn’t go quite to plan. Like many things in motherhood, it required more courage than I’d expected.

But we did it. And amidst the beautiful madness there you were – absolutely perfectly… sticky. And ours. You opened your sleepy eyes and looked at me, and you owned that room, baby boy. You owned us.

My hand shook as I shielded you from the harsh light. I’d wanted dim light and a blissful water birth, I’d wanted gentle and empowering. I’d wanted peaceful and natural and perfect. But you were so beautiful that I didn’t care about what wasn’t. I didn’t care about the people bustling around the theatre, or the tugging at my tummy.  

And that made it a different kind of perfect. A different kind of empowering.

You were born that day, but you weren’t the only one.

A mother was born, a mother that had never existed before. A mother of one had been in her place, but you birthed a mother of two.

This mother had only ever existed in the other mothers dreams, in her plans, in her hopes. Oh she had hoped. And there she was, bursting with newness and joy, seeing things differently, as you saw them for the first time.

A father was born, a stronger one than before. One who had tapped into all his strength to sit beside his wife and tell her everything was ok with a look. A father of two was born that day, and that courage made him bigger – big enough to love you both, to guide you both, to be a man that you would be so proud to call your Dad.

And at home with Grandma, waiting for a phonecall, was a small boy who had spent three and a half years as an only child. He loved the idea of you with all his little heart. You took the word ‘brother’ and made it mean something to him. He wore it so proudly for you. You didn’t wake when he came to visit you that first time, and I’m not surprised. Hearing his voice through sleep was probably a lot like hearing it through my belly, familiar as a hearbeat, comforting as the lullabies he sung my bump every single day.

A big brother was born that day, and you changed his world.

You see baby boy: when you were born, a family was born. It wasn’t just changed, it was absolutely turned on its head and recreated – because you deserved nothing less.

And when we gazed at you those first days and fell so deeply in love with you we fell in love with each other more too. Your stickiness stuck us together.

This past year has been a blur of tiredness, cuddles, laughter, tears and beautiful firsts. My heart has burst with joy for you every time I see your eyes light up at a new discovery. I have loved in ways I never knew as I watched my boys look at each other like they were looking at their own personal superheroes.

On Sunday I’m going to wish you happy birthday, baby boy. And I’m going to wish us a happy birthday too. Our family – one year old. That was the gift that you gave us that day for the first time, and that we are going to keep on giving eachother every day.

I hope you like your present little one. Your presence is ours.

Happy Birthday to us xx

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012