01 Sep What Constitutes a Father
My loving, and much-loved, Partner-in-Crime has never been a father; well, not that he knows of! He’s been a step-father, but only came into their mother’s life when the children were adults, and most had left home. Some were even married. So, realistically, he hadn’t actually been with a baby from the get-go. Yes, he’d been around when the step-children had children, however the ex-husband was still very much involved and was seen, as was his right, as the father and grandfather, so P-i-C was forced to take a back seat.
Fortunately, my daughter-in-law told him that he didn’t have to worry. When he came into my life, he became a part of the whole family, lock, stock and barrel, and had three grandchildren who loved having him around. It was expected he would be a part of their lives, even though they had other grandparents, and step-grandparents. He is their ‘Grantie’, and P-i-C loves this title.
Which leads me to think about what constitutes a father. It’s a title so many men own, and shouldn’t; while others don’t, and should. We know he is seen, by law, as the male parent, which could actually just mean he is the biological father, and nothing more. Being a father who at least shares the home, whether or not he is proactive in his child’s life is another matter, is given the other title of patriarch. Some assume the title through adoption of a child and we hope they would be an interactive father, while there are also informal, and often short term, foster fathers who come into a child’s life for some reason. Whichever way a man accepts fatherhood, he is given a name from a variety of names, some of the most popular being: dad, daddy, pop, poppa, pa, old boy, old man. Some are good, others … depends on the individual’s point of view! What I do know is that a good father makes all the difference in a child’s life. He’s a pillar of strength, support and discipline, and his work is endless and, often, thankless. (Like mothers, but it’s Father’s Day, so we must give them the glory, just for today!)
Now, back to the real focus of my story; my P-i-C and his connection to being a father. At this point in time what I think he is most excited about, and it has come as a real surprise to him, is the relationship he has built, as the primary care-giver, to our Missy. Missy is our rescue dog, a Staffy x Jack Russell, who came into our lives early February this year, when P-i-C retired. We don’t know a lot about her past, except she and her litter of pups were taken to the pound. We adopted her, or rather she chose us, when she was eighteen months old, and what she has added to our lives in these past seven months is monumental.
It’s absolutely wonderful to see how well Missy and P-i-C get along, and how in tune with each other they are. When he was away recently, and only for a couple of days, she really missed him. When he arrived home, I doubt she left his side for more than thirty seconds, and was even known to be sitting outside the toilet door, waiting for him to finish his business. The only thing that bothered her was that she was required to give up her position on his side of the bed. As he was away, she was permitted to sleep there all night, instead of just having cuddles with us before ‘lights out’. Then she goes into her own snuggly bed, in our bedroom, and is covered with her own hand-made quilt! She really does have an awfully hard life!!
So, fatherhood, what is it really? As P-i-C, Missy and I were having brunch down at the lovely little café near our dog beach, I realised that fatherhood didn’t just mean being a parent. It was also about being a ‘pawrent’ as well. And this to me, at this time in our lives, is just as important. Remember, love is not finding someone to live with. It’s finding someone you can’t live without. I know I’m that person in P-i-C’s life, and he in mine, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have a different type of ‘human’ with whom to share our lives.
And that’s how P-i-C has earned his rightful place as a father, and a grandfather figure. Two different roles, and very important in their own, individual way, though they are both intertwined. We are all one family, and we are also proud grand-pawrents to Jack, Jessie and Barkley. What could be more special than that? Nope … can’t think of a thing! It’s just all LOVE.