I was going to write a Father’s Day entry about our family’s trip to the zoo. I still may; a fella could learn a lot from the animal kingdom. But today, I found this article from the Chicago Tribune, about a man named Carmickle and his daughter, Alexis.
In 2001, Carmickle had spent three years fighting tooth-and-nail for custody of Alexis, who’d been born to a drug-addicted mother and placed with the Department of Children and Family Services at six weeks old. The writer who orginally covered the story met with Carmickle this past Father’s Day, to see how he and his daughter were doing. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard fatherhood described so simply, or so perfectly:
‘You’ve got to feed [children] everyday,’ he said smiling. ‘You’ve got to clothe them. And be real patient. You’ve got to give them a lot of love, even when they try you, and they will try you.’Read more →
It was no great challenge to father my child; Kelly and I shouldn’t drink from the same water fountain. I’m sure the same is true for most fathers. But fatherhood itself is a constant struggle, a battle. It is not passive or meek. Good fathers must be intentional and vigilent, not simply toward the well-being of our children, but also toward ourselves. God has given us the desire and capabilities to become great fathers. In His image, the potential is there. Yet there are so many distractions, so many obstacles to our reaching this goal.
Before marriage and fatherhood, there was only me and my wants. And that
man boy still lurks, waiting to spend hours in front of the Nintendo, or at the movies, or doing every petty thing that comes to mind. His voice is getting softer, his insistence weaker, but he’s always there.
Popular culture, too, knows this, and uses this boy as Exhibit A when criticizing men and fatherhood. We are absurd at best, abusive at worst. We are inconsequential to the lives of our children, except when it comes to our checkbooks. And, too often, we do this to ourselves.
Also, we must not forget the men, like Carmickle, for whom fatherhood comes at great cost. Fathering a child is not always easy, nor is it a guarantee of fatherhood. There are men who grapple with becoming a father, who claw their way through tangles of biological or bureaucratic turmoil for the gift the rest of us have so easily received.
Fatherhood is precious and important. It is both a right and a privilege, and should not be taken lightly. It should never be taken for granted.