Fatherhood is a tough, but rewarding job. Men are tasked with guiding their children to be productive humans in society. Absent fathers will force the child to lean on another human they are close to such as the mother, siblings, grandparents or someone outside the family for fatherly guidance. The risks to children growing up without a father vs with a father are seemingly obvious, but there are always exceptions. I am not going to venture down the path of discussing the risks, rather I will focus on my personal experience.
When Ashton was born, I was so happy he was healthy. I knew that was the first challenge we would face that none of us had control over, only God. As the years went by, Ashton would face many challenges, and most of them I wanted him to figure out on his own. I believe in establishing a foundation of good vs bad in him, and allowing him to make his own decisions. Afterwards we can discuss his decision, and he can apply what he learned to his next challenge.
As a father living with a terminal disease, this philosophy of mine became ever more important. One day, much sooner than expected, Ashton will be without a father. That really sucks for him, because I always had my father who I could rely on for help or advice. So how do we move forward with our father -son relationship, knowing it won’t be what we expected? The answer is not so clear, but we choose to continue building on our foundation we started when he was little.
It’s hard not being able to participate in physical activities together. I miss playing catch, riding bikes, swimming etc. But even though we can’t do these things together, we still are father and son, and I still have the responsibility of raising a productive man. I struggle accepting this reality mentally, but I try every day to be the best father I can be. I can still solidify his foundation, and ultimately he will have a more difficult path than I had in my early adult years. My hope is that through these challenges we face together, and the challenges he faces on his own will result in Ashton being resilient, compassionate, intelligent and more successful than I could have imagined.
It is through adversity that successful humans are molded, and Ashton and I have certainly faced adversity in the last five years. I feel confident that I am still molding my son for the world, and for that I am thankful. Although life is different, it still is pretty awesome!