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Being a Father is What You Make it

Patrick Johnson shares his journey in becoming a father.

In 2004, I was celebrating my 32nd birthday and my first year wedding anniversary. 

On arriving home from a usual day at work, my wife greeted me at the door and handed me our one-month-old son. I had become very accustomed to this new routine. Go Train home, straight to the bathroom to sanitize, and then father-son time for the rest of the evening. 

The Johnson Men Strike A Pose

While growing up, my father was very hands-off – like his father before him. Interestingly though, and to the stark contrast, my uncle was very hands-on. He was also one of the only people of colour I recall moving to the suburbs to raise his kids. He was very involved with his children and even checked in on me to a much deeper level than just a regular surface check-in. He was my inspiration. He showed me the way.

Unfortunately, my dad was not like my uncle. It bothered me a lot. It seemed so simple. It seemed obvious. Do the right thing. Have your kids. Spend time with your kids, and raise them. What was not to like.  

For me, I thought about these things deeply, reflected on my own feelings about the situation and came to a very clear decision. I remember it exactly…I said the words out loud “I will do things differently and be the opposite of my dad.” 

I was going to be there every step of the way, from cleaning diapers, to 3:00 a.m. feedings, to bathing them as babies, to ubering them and their friends from place to place, to doctors appointments, to teacher meetings, to attending all their sporting events, to homework, to everything they’re involved in. My motto was whatever my kids are into, was what I was into. 

Suffice to say, I followed my uncle’s lead. When my second son came 2 years later, my hands-on routine only intensified. I made the decision a long time before that I was going to be a hands-on dad. It was the easiest, and best decision I have ever made. 

Is it easy all the time? Nope! 

Does it feel rewarding all the time? Nope!  

Do you feel unappreciated? Yep.  

But 16 years later, would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY. 

Why? It is different for everyone, but for me, it has been a fulfilling experience.  

The Johnson Family

Actively participating in your children’s lives each and every step of the way is exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, and frightening all at once. It pulls you in so many directions intellectually, and emotionally, it’s hard to keep up. You learn so much about yourself through your children. I truly believe that the path to self-improvement lies in observing your own kids, but that’s a whole other story. 

The funny thing is after my father observed my relationship with my kids, he commented that he was proud of the way I have raised my kids, and how involved I was with them, and that it looked so fun that perhaps he should have done the same too. What a weird turn of events.

Happy Father’s day everyone!