Fatherhood is one of those things that you just can’t prepare yourself for, no matter how much advice you get or how many times you hear that it will change your life. On July 5, 2012, I found out just how profound this experience is when my wife gave birth to my son, Brooks Edward Hunter. Since we didn’t know the gender of our baby, it was my job to inform the room once he was born. At that moment of truth, I found myself speechless. The doctor asked me multiple times to tell my wife if we had a son or daughter. I was simply in shock. Not because of the birthing process, but because I was experiencing the most amazing miracle life can offer, the birth of our first child.
I spoke to a good friend prior to Brooks being born. He has two children and told me that when, not if, I wanted to talk about being a new father, to call him. It sounded weird at the time, but I took him up on his offer within a month. Among other things, we talked about how dads can feel left out at first. The baby doesn’t “need” you like he needs his mother. All of this was perfectly described in a recent article in Esquire Magazine. We can’t feed him and don’t have that immediate connection that mothers do. That all quickly changed.
Now that my son is approaching his first birthday, I know that I am just as important to him as his mother, but in different ways. I can see how important it is for a child to have a father in their life by the way my son reactions to me. With that realization, comes a new found responsibility. It has always been clear that my job as a father and husband is to provide for my family, but I don’t think I grasped how big of a role a father played in a child’s life. I am now thirty-four years old and am just coming to this conclusion. My parents were eighteen years old when I was born. They were just children themselves. Understanding that now helps me appreciate how difficult it must have been for them. Having a child, trying to do what they though was right and get married only to get divorced within a year, learning to support themselves and a newborn, all while trying to grow up themselves, must have seemed like more than anyone could handle. With all that being said, I’ve been able to learn from their, and many others, mistakes. My priorities in life have changed so dramatically over a year that I sometimes wonder if I’m still the same person!
I’m traveling this week for work, and this weekend, my company is sponsoring Bonnaroo with our product Island Squeeze. I was scheduled to be there to see how things were going, along with having some fun with one of my business partners and another friend. I had already made my travel arrangements when I mentioned this to my wife. She reminded me that it was Fathers Day weekend, but immediately said that she had no problem with my trip…and honestly meant it. She also said, “Its your day, so you can spend it however you want.” I thought about this statement that evening. I realized that I couldn’t imagine spending my first Fathers Day without my son. Not because it seems like that is what I am supposed to do, but because it is exactly what I want to do. Anyone that has children may think that this is all common sense, but for a first time father, this is all new. I quickly changed my travel plans so that I can get back on Saturday and spend the entire day, Fathers Day, exactly how I want…with my son!