We asked the poet, Shaky Shergill, to think about what he means to him to be a father in the 21st Century. Here he shares his own experiences of the father-son relationship. He explains that didn’t want to be the father that his dad was, but wasn’t sure what the alternatives were.
Fatherhood, what they don't tell you....
Perhaps that should be fatherhood, they didn’t tell me anything....
In the 21st Century there are so many ways that I can use to define myself as a man; my age, my race, my career, who I love, where I live, etc. and if I look there will be somewhere I can learn about it and how it relates to me.
For me one of the most significant times in my life was when I added the title of father or dad to the others I have collected. Then and at other times since I’ve felt as if there is a significant shortage of material to teach everything I’ve wanted to learn about being the father of a wonderful boy who is becoming a young man. Ever since he came into my life 12 years ago with a look and grasp of my finger it feels as if he’s taken over completely.
By doing so he’s made me not only question who I am but also my abilities. A part of me believed that I shouldn’t need education to do or be something so natural and fundamental. After all this is something that men have been doing throughout the ages. Looking back at my childhood I realised that there are things that I wish had happened differently.
Being a father has changed
I’m aware that just as being a child has changed over the years so has being a father. I realised that I didn’t want to be the father that my dad was but wasn’t sure what the alternatives were. Looking back through the generations and back to the land of my birth. I didn’t feel as if I have anything in common with the father who would have taught his son to work the earth and even less so with those who came before him, the father who taught his son to hunt. Nonetheless, I can imagine similarities.
As I watched my son grow (and unknown to myself) grew with him I realised that those similarities are as true as they’ve ever been. In some ways a father wants just what a son wants; someone to love him, someone to listen, someone to laugh with and someone to hold him.
So over the years we’ve laughed, talked, shared and held each other. In some ways he made it so easy. As he grew older he’d walk over and say ‘hug’ be hugged and walked off. Some of the irrational moments were challenging at first and over the years the amount one of us tells the other to calm down is evening out more.
So, fatherhood, what they don’t tell you…
- They don’t tell you that whatever you do to prepare your child will come with a challenge that is personal to you.
- They don’t tell you that all of those things that you are lead to believe will make them happier or more content won’t work as well as a hug or an ‘I love you’.
- They don’t tell you that the love in your child’s eyes can be more enslaving and healing than anything else you’ll ever experience.
- And they definitely won’t tell you that there will be times when your child will in all seriousness tell you to ‘calm down’ and expect you to do so.
There are a lot of other things they don’t tell you but I haven’t experienced them yet and if I do perhaps I’ll tell you.
Shaky Shergill’s writings can be found at the his website, The Warrior Poet.
In the run up to launch of the film Down Dog on 14 February, insideMAN is running a series of articles about fatherhood and we'd love you to get involved. You can join the conversation on twitter by using the hashtag #MenBehavingDADly; leave a comment in the section below or email us with your thoughts and ideas for articles to insideMANeditor@gmail.com.
For more information about the film see www.downdogfilm.com