Sometimes--if not most of the time--you have to make the good things happen yourself. That might be the dictum that lead Raúl Colón to launch Papá Héroes, a website that focuses on the good and great things that Dads do. In doing so, it helps remind Us that although there are a lot of voluntarily missing fathers and some who should be shot like rabid dogs, there's a huge number of men who take pride in being a father and do their best to be the best father they can be.
When Raúl launched the website, he kindly invited Me to join. I responded that I would, but this is as close as I've come. In the months since, Papá Héroes has grown into a combination journal-forum on what it is to be a good Dad. Reading through the anecdotes and posts, you get the sense that it starts with caring, just caring about your child and your role as a father.
Indifference is deadly, to the child's development and to having any chance to become a good father. I'd say simply caring is more important than love, because there are good fathers out there who don't love their children, either because they don't know how (think about it and you'll realize who I'm talking about) or because (more often) the children are not theirs, but they care for them anyway. A few step-fathers have told Me they don't really love their step-children, but that they try hard to be there for them in everything. I don't often believe what they say, but when I see them act as good responsible fathers year after year, I have to say: they are honest. And they are good fathers.
Biology makes mothers and fathers very different. A mother literally has the child as part of her body for nine months; for fathers, the connection becomes real when the child is born. By then, the mother has spent months sharing a heartbeat, and if you believe in that sort of thing, a soul with that baby. Fathers learn to love a child; mothers love the child as they love themselves.
That's why some mothers fail to be good mothers: not because they lack a connection to the child, but because they don't love themselves enough. Biological fathers may have more "reasons" (and they are all excuses, anyway) for not loving a child, and yet stepping up and being a father is just as important as being a mother. That so many men fail to do so is an indictment of Our society.
Over the years, I've worried about how I'm doing as a father. I berate Myself for missing a cue, for over-reacting, for not reacting enough, for being short-tempered or for being too patient. Time and time again people have told Me they think I'm a good father, even a great one, but the concern still weighs on Me: Am I? Can I be? Will I ever be?
Yet, on rare occasions, when I'm alone with My thoughts, a part of Me looks at My son and at My nephews, the boys I spent so much time with, and a small voice in My head says: "You're doing good. Keep it up."
I wish that voice would stick around a little longer. Barring that, I thank Raúl and the collaborators at Papá Héroes for bringing good Dads together and letting them--Us--share what it is to be a father.
The Jenius Has Spoken.