Over the past three years of actively living out fatherhood, I have watched my boys grow in many ways. Joseph, the oldest at three years old, is the thinker. He is always asking the question “why?”, and desiring the engagement of discussion. Charlie, on the other hand is a little over a year old and he is more physical in his approach to the world. Two boys that I call “my” sons. I am amazed daily watching both find traits and character marks that I find in myself, sometimes after I see them manifesting them to me.
As I write this, I have to affirm to myself that there is no such thing as one way to father. Because both of my children are different, I must father them in different ways so they can grow into the men God created them to be. I do find the challenge to raise my boys into the men they were created to be a little overwhelming, because I know that in raising them as God’s children, I myself have to point them to God. In doing so, I too must stand before God.
“I am afraid of the word ‘mine’, though at the same time I love it most and cherish best its meaning. I am afraid because this word always puts me face to face with You. A thorough analysis of the word ‘mine’ always leads me to You.” (Reflections on Fatherhood 2.6)
In the above passage, Karol Wojtyla meditates on the concept of using the word “mine” in relation to another person, namely a child. In the “Radiation of Fatherhood”, Adam wrestles with calling Monica “mine” because in this one word the meaning of fatherhood is found. When I use the word “mine” or “my” in relation to children, I move from an abstract interaction with a chance person to an intimate relation with a person who is entrusted to me. Unlike a mother, whose mothering begins maturation over nine months, a father’s is more rushed. I become a father when I engage my children. They reveal to me what fatherhood is, and call me to respond.
Looking at “my” children I am constantly reminded that they are not mine. They are God’s children, and my fatherhood should radiate His Love within my love. God blesses me through entrusting His children to my care for a little while. Coming to this realization was a profoundly moving experience. Seeing my traits developing in “my” children reveals that God has allowed me to take part in His creation. How much more humbling can fatherhood be?