Here’s an important realization that I worked through which proved helpful for me as a dad.
Susan and I raised five sons before adding two more children to our family. The gap between son number five and child number six was fourteen years. Our “baby of the family” was a teenager when our first daughter was born. Over two years later our seventh child (our sixth son) was born.
For several years looking after the new babies in the family was made easier by the input of our older sons. Those boys learned how to bath a baby, how to clean a baby’s dirty bottom, and so on. The workload was shared around seven people.
Gradually, however, the older sons become less available, as they married off, found employment and so on. The ready helpers evaporated and an increased workload fell to Susan and me.
That’s where my own maturity had to take yet another step forward.
I found myself feeling miffed that I didn’t have the help I had become accustomed to. I found myself irritated when my plans had to be adjusted to accommodate the demands of the young children. I seemed to think that someone else should be feeling the impact of these children and not me. I had important things to do, places to go, plays to pursue.
Then it hit me! I realized one day, as the baby needed attention and there was no-one else to delegate the job to, that “It’s MY baby!” That tender young life in need of care, attention, love and affection was in my home, on the planet, because of choices made by ME, not someone else. This baby was not someone else’s responsibility. My daughter and son were not someone else’s problem, nor someone else’s distraction. They are MY children, born to me as a direct consequence of my actions, according to my hopes and dreams. Even if they had not been wanted, and they certainly were wanted and planned for, I would still have to accept full and final responsibility for them.
Coming to that realization was a wonderful release for me. I stood to my feet and headed in the direction of the crying child, with new resolve and with new energy to meet the challenges. The tiny voice was calling for Me, from My child. I found it easy then to release my sons to move off into the things for which they had been raised and prepared. I released them from being the caregivers for my baby. I released them from having to be “on duty”, with their lives on hold.