It's 5:23 AM as I start writing this. That's because my son just went back to sleep, having woken me up a scant hour and a half after my daughter went back to sleep. I'm tired, but I can't go back to bed just yet. Well, I guess I could, but if I don't wait a few minutes to see if Michael is really asleep and not playing possum, I could be back out here in two minutes to pick him up again.
Some days, the vocation of "father" is more difficult than other days. It's not just the exhaustion . . . though, God knows, there's plenty of that. I haven't been able to sleep through the night in two weeks now, and it's beginning to take its toll. But I've noticed that, when I'm tired, my patience wears thin. This is not a good thing when dealing with toddler twins in their terrible twos. (Like that alliteration? I was an English major for nearly two years. Can't help myself sometimes.)
I like to think I'm a good father. Doesn't every father? I mean, I work a full-time job to support my family, and then I come home and I play with and watch over my children. I play with them. I help feed them. I change their diapers. I kiss their boo-boos. I nibble their toes. I help put them to sleep, and then I take night duty, holding them and sometimes feeding them back into insensibility and sleep. Not that I'm looking for kudos or anything. After all, isn't that what a father is supposed to do?
You know, I never thought I'd be a father. Not that I ever had anything against children, but I never thought I'd get married. No wife? No kids. I had some vague notion about someday possibly adopting a teenager when I was in my 40s, but as I said, it was just a vague notion. I went from being a bachelor to being a husband and the father of a seven year-old in a matter of minutes--well, in less than a year, anyway. (My wife and I had a whirlwind courtship.) I was never prepared for all this.
On the other hand, I've had three wonderful examples in fatherhood. My own father worked two and sometimes three jobs to support our family, but he always made time for us. He read me bedtime stories. He coached my baseball team. He knew when to be just and when to be merciful. If it's any indication of the kind of father he was, he was the best man at my wedding.
My vicarage Bishop is another. He's the father of seven--though I imagine it seems like 30 sometimes, with all the friends running around the house. He's an island of calm in the middle of the fury that is his family. He seems almost effortlessly to balance his various vocations: husband, father, pastor, mentor, etc.
And then, of course, there is the perfect Father. He's the Father who sent His only-begotten Son to atone for the sins of the world. He's the Father who perfectly answers every need of His children. He's the Father who loves wayward children who love to rebel against him. He's the Father who loves us to call him "Father". He heals our ills. He comforts our griefs. He provides "all that we need to support this body and life".
Time will tell what kind of father I end up being. God willing, even if I'm not a great father, at least my children will grow up knowing I love them and have done everything I can to take care of them. It's now 5:50 AM, and I've got to be up in another hour or so, but Michael seems to be sleeping soundly. What more could I ask for? I guess Daddy can go back to bed now.