There's a weightiness to fatherhood that I may have underestimated in the past. I felt it today right down into the bottoms of my feet; as if slabs of concrete were strapped to the soles of my shoes. I was walking out of Oliver's school under this weight that had landed on me with a thud. Meanwhile, my son was clucking and hopping his way to the truck. I was trailing behind, lugging his backpack under one arm. A sleeve from his coat was slung through the backpack straps. It dragged on the ground like the tail of an old dog.
If someone were looking down on us in judgement, maybe perched up in the branches of a front yard tree, they'd see this carefree child bouncing down the sidewalk and me; a slouching old man dragging his weary bones, one foot in front of the other, staring absently beyond himself, too weary to wonder where his own childhood had gone.
What a poor soul! remarks the voice from up in the trees as we pass by. How do you do it? Not the life you imagined is it? What a shame! Your body a miraculous collection of molecules, of swirling stardust spun out of nothingness, now lugubriously plodding home at the end of day.
But, you're wrong, I say into the barren sky. That's enough.
I am made of the same stuff as the Sun. I'm as ancient as the Big Bang. I don't have to parade around for you or anyone else.
When we got home Oliver asked for a bowl of water. He went outside with it and I mixed up a bowl of pancake mix. While I cooked up pancakes, my anxious eye on the clock so we wouldn't be late for hockey practice at 5:00, Oliver washed my truck with a nylon brush.
Behind the tired facade, under the great weight is the joy. A sparkling truck and a little boy bursting through the front door to share with me what he'd done. His little brother grabbed my hand and led me out of the kitchen, outside to admire what his big brother had started. He grabbed my hand!
I want to share that feeling with the voice from the trees but when I turn around to say, See! This is where it's at! The voice is gone.
But the weight is still there. The father alone with his weight.Read more