This changes everything.
I’ve known for pretty much the whole 17 weeks that I’m going to be a father for the first time in May.
Our first bubs is due to arrive 8 days before my year without sport is supposed to end.
This fact crystallises everything that I’ve been on about these last 6+ months and gives focus to a journey that at times has been more painful than fruitful.
You see, I want to be a good dad. No, I want to be a great dad. Someone who is present and available, less focused on self and the busyness and activities of my world and more open to family, to interruptions, to the everyday moments.
I ‘know’ that the early months will bring little choice in this regard. It’s intimidating and is not something you can plan or train for. And it’s not helped one bit from the ‘funny’ / snide comments from people re lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion. It’s going to be really hard – we get that. Thanks. Again.
There comes a time
But for the last decade, I have been immersed in a world of 5 to 12 year olds, where there is choice for parents and the differences in approaches have a profound impact.
Honestly, I’ve been more inspired in my journeys alongside the many families I have taught than anything else. The unity and bonds created within families who have made each other a priority and been intentional in developing relationships are remarkable.
I see the depth of relationship with the parents who have made sacrifices for their child. And time. A parent of two children I have taught once professed that, ‘Quality time is a myth. Kids want quantity time’. As I look around and see the brokenness of the family unit and our attempts to artificially compensate for not being there for our children with grandiose gifts and staged events, I can’t help but agree. Plus it helped that he had (and still has) a phenomenal relationship with both his sons.
Not going there
I’m not going to go into my upbringing and try to present myself as having an unhappy childhood. Far from it. But we all come away from our own personal experiences with a certain take on things, alongside ambitions to make your own way when that time comes.
And that time is coming. Fast!
What’s this got to do with sport?!
I am so glad that the opportunity to make a decision to step back from sport was made before little E came along. I would hate to ever resent a moment away from a sporting event in order to be a present father or a loving and supportive husband. But that’s where I could have been heading.
I know that there will be long nights when I will be absolutely rapt that I’ve got a game of something on the hard drive to watch while I nurse Screaming Baby A or take the nighttime feed.
I have also seen, over 10 years, that the joy and overwhelming nature of newborns naturally dissipates over time and the varied levels of connectedness within families by the time the children hit my classroom. There comes a time when you have a choice as to your level of engagement.
It will have a role
Sport will be at the forefront of family life. It won’t be hidden away or not spoken about, like the hopeless uncle at Christmas time – ‘If you don’t who the weird uncle is at your family gathering, you are the weird uncle’. It provides an obvious bonding potential between father and son, or whatever I can get a daughter into, as well as actually playing. I’d wrestle them but apparently that’s not a sport.
I’m told that perspective will come regardless. I look forward to that. It is lucky that my perspective on sport has evolved naturally and by choice. I look forward to its reappearance in my routines and hope to deftly position it as a healthy and vibrant part of family life.
Sport definitely has an important part to play in raising my child… I can’t do it alone!