Jeff Perera presents the second in a Higher Unlearning special series ‘Father Figures’ looking at the bond and special moments between children and their fathers & father figures: a special blog post by Merrill Matthews.
I have been delighted and thankful to meet some amazing men who play an active role in raising the children in their lives. Whether as Fathers or ‘father figures’ (Grandfather, Uncle, Guardian, Big Brother, Coach, Educator or the ‘dude across the street’) men who embrace the powerful impact they can have are examples we need to share to others. One of those men is Merrill Matthews. We have been able to do some wonderful events with him and the incredible staff at National Film Board of Canada Mediatheque over the years. Here is a piece by this loving father on the surprises and other powerful moments of Fatherhood.
Let’s encourage men to embrace being the positive influence they can be in a child’s life.
Here are the things that parents will tell you when you’re going to become one:
“Sleep now, because you won’t after.”
“It’s the greatest experience that you will ever have.”
Here are the things that parents DON’T tell you when you’re going to become one:
Projectile vomiting – it can actually happen.
Sometimes you’ll wear your work shirts inside out because you’re too tired to realize.
Let’s go back to the vomit for a moment.
The first time my daughter got really sick – it was terrible. She was feverish, she wasn’t drinking. It was unbearable to see her go through this pain, but doubly worse as a parent watching this precious thing go through all of this, and you’re completely helpless.
That night, I heard her coughing up a storm in her crib. I had gotten used to the lack of sleep because I kept a watchful eye and ear out in case she needed anything. When she finally coughed so hard that even I took pause, I went to her and took her out of the crib. There she was, all red, tired and so sad. I hugged her close, her body so hot from fever.
Another cough and there it was – projectile vomit all over me. Twice.
I stood there, stunned that this had happened, engulfed in the thick of it. (I had scenes from Stand By Me playing in my head at that very moment – you know which one I’m talking about!) As my wife ran to get towels, I remember just holding my daughter’s hand and embracing her still and saying “it’s okay” – feeling that no matter what I needed to help her throughout everything.
No matter what.
That was one of many pivotal moments for me as a parent – that I would do anything and everything in my life to make sure that my child was safe, happy and loved. Growing up without a dad made me want to be one for a really long time. And when it did happen, it was like what people had told me – but with more dimension and colour.
I am constantly moved by stories about fathers and their children – I love hearing about them, and especially knowing that there are strong, paternal men out there who are taking on their role with delight. The stereotype of the “clueless, slapsticky, unknowing, babysitter-esque parent” shown on TV and film continues to annoy me. I can’t connect with that person, because I for one am not that person. And more often than not, I feel that that stereotype is nothing more than a caricature in this day and age as I feel that fathers are taking on that role of parent with an open heart.
I love being a Dad. I will always love being a Dad. Careers will come and go, but this will remain the most important thing that I will ever do. And while there will be millions of high moments, I also look forward to those difficult times when I will probably be the last person in the world she wants to confide in or talk to. Because she will know that I will be still be there…..keeping that watchful eye and ear, waiting to see if she needs anything.
Merrill Matthews is a Montrealer but has realized there is some Torontonian that has manifested in him these past seven years. He is an avid film and music lover, and works happily at his day job, at the National Film Board of Canada Mediatheque. His life job is being an active husband and father.
About It Starts With You
It starts with you is an online-based, social media campaign developed by the White Ribbon Campaign to inspire men to promote healthy, equal relationships with the boys in their lives. Helping young people achieve consent, set boundaries, value people of all genders and use respectful communication in all their relationships is something we can all do. Learn more about the tips, tools and resources, e-modules and digital stories available online for free at www.itstartswithyou.ca