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Thursday, April 11, 2013

A warm welcome to fatherhood

An interesting question posed by the Blogfather in a closed Facebook group of blogging fathers led to quite a few flashbacks in my attempt to answer it.  The question: "When did you first - truly - realise you were a dad?".  Being a guy, the instinctive reaction was to provide an answer beginning with "... it was a especially hot and humid night and wearing clothes didn't feel particularly necessary..." or "... it was my first time wiping an ass other than my own...".  I guess this question deserves a honest and serious answer so here's my personal experience.

It was October 2011 and Aiden was 9 months old.  For a few intense months, I was overwhelmed and trying to cope with a never ending avalanche of work deadlines and urgent projects.  Naturally, stress levels were high, working hours were long and quality family time was limited.  Having just 'upgraded' my status to a new dad, I was conscious to contribute as much to work as before.  Being no stranger to overtime hours, I thought that other than the guilt of not spending enough time with my family, it was going to be manageable.  I would make it up during the weekends, which I did.

But things turned bad rather quickly as I developed a fever that would not go away.  For a few weeks, I had bouts of fever that came and gone as randomly as the time I could spend with my family.  And for the few weeks, I continued to work long hours.  After many visits to the doctors and tests, it was narrowed down to a virus that attacked my liver.  Eventually, the rate at which my liver functions were failing prompted Mummy Cher to send me to the hospital ward.

While I was lying on the hospital bed, I had plenty of time to think, and worry about the lives of my family - Aiden's, Mummy Cher's and mine, and in that order.  What would happen to them if (touchwood) I am gone?  I felt helpless about my situation and guilty that my attitude towards work might have disadvantaged the lives of my loved ones.  There are so many things that I would die for (wrong choice of words I know) to be able to experience with my family of three - attending Aiden's graduation, helping him pay the deposit for his million dollar HDB 2-room flat, finding his secret stash of porn.

And it was on the hospital bed, in between some blood tests and some pills, when I finally came to a conclusion about how I should live my life after the big 3-0:

Rule #1: To take good care of my family.
Rule #2: Then try to be the most successful professional that I can be without compromising Rule #1.

I have to be, and I want to be responsible for their well-being and ensure that they lead a happy life. There is simply no real substitute for daddy's love and the influence a daddy can have on the lives of their children.  It cannot be replaced with the maid, the grandparent, or even the mother.  Spiderman's uncle used to say, with great power comes great responsibility.  I guess fatherhood is a powerful experience that comes with great responsibility and I wouldn't trade for anything else in this world.


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