Click the link above to listen to an interview with Pastor Tim Osiowy from the Father’s Day service at Gateway Christian Ministries.
I’ve always wanted to have kids. I spent most of my young adult life getting set up to have a family of my own. I had a house; a car; a career…a few of the ingredients, but I was missing a wife. On my 26th birthday, a week after meeting her, I started dating Chantal; although she didn’t realize it for another week. Apparently saying that we were friends and we’d see where it goes wasn’t as clear as I thought it was. Shortly after getting that straightened out, we both left town for Christmas holidays. While we were away she worried that it was all too surreal and not really happening. At the same time I started shopping for an engagement ring. Three months after we started dating, I asked her to marry me after having dinner at the Space Needle in Seattle. She said yes. I had to close the deal before she found out all of my flaws so we had a short engagement and were married in three months on June 7, 2008. Following our new family tradition of not wasting any time, we decided to start having kids the month after we were married, and by August we were pregnant.
Quite often, before our son was born, people would ask me if I was excited to be a dad. I always had a bit of a hard time answering this question. Of course I was excited; I’d always wanted to have kids. The hard part was that nothing had changed yet and I didn’t really feel connected to this new life. It was neat to watch Chantal’s belly grow, and feel the baby kick, but it didn’t really feel like I thought it would feel to be having my own child. There were moments of excitement and anticipation as we got the baby’s room set up, and moments of frustration as Chantal tried to put together a list of potential names and I wasn’t any help.
I got to catch Tobin when he was born, as much as was possible anyway, the midwife and I kind of each caught half of him. He came very quickly, but don’t try to tell that to Chantal who was in labor for 4 days. When I got to hold my son in my arms and see the look on Chantal’s face when I passed him to her, that’s when I started to feel like a father.
Holding our son for the first time was great, but even better has been getting to know him. I love watching him learn all the little things that babies do that mean so much to the parents and that everyone else gets tired of hearing about. Tobin is 14 months old now and more fun than ever. He understands what’s going on around him. He doesn’t say much yet, but is very good at communicating with everyone anyways.
When I think about it, I realize that just having a baby isn’t what makes me a father. Being a father to my son is so much more than just changing a diaper or helping out with feedings; it’s our relationship that is important. It’s knowing things about him that other people don’t; it’s correcting, teaching, playing, and living life together. This might explain why I didn’t feel much of a connection with Tobin while Chantal was pregnant. Because to me, it is the everyday relationship with my son that makes me a father.
It is incredibly common in our world today for children to grow up without a father. I could never imagine not being close to my children. I was out of town for a few days a couple of weeks ago. Chantal told me that while I was gone, Tobin would run around the house knocking on doors and calling for me. I got home late, after he was in bed, and when he got up in the morning and saw that I was there he had the biggest smile and laugh of joy ever. That makes me feel like a father.
Tobin and I love working together. If I’m working on a project at the house he wants to be right there with me: carrying wood to make a fire, taking my screwdrivers, and overseeing my work. He loves riding the lawn tractor with me and takes this job very seriously. It could be easy to be frustrated that it takes me longer to finish putting together the bathroom sink because I can’t find the right screwdriver, or having to take time to give him a bit of attention while I’m working, but I have to remind myself that the important thing is that we are spending time together and that he is learning things from me that I might not even consider teaching him.
I love being an important person in my son’s life. Just the other day, the three of us were out shopping and I was carrying Tobin. Chantal put her arm around me as we were walking and Tobin frowned at her and pushed her away, laying his head on my shoulder. He wanted me all to himself.
Every one of these moments is an opportunity to build a relationship with my son, and I know it will be the same with the other kids that we’ll have. I think that being a father is a lot like being a husband in that as I had to become a student of my wife; to know her likes and dislikes, her successes and failures; each child that I have will be unique. He or she will have different ways in which we can spend time and build relationship with one another.
It would be easy to go to work, come home, and focus on whatever I might want to do that evening; but I would be missing out on a relationship with the most important people I know.
Now that we’re just getting used to having one child, our second is due to arrive in just a couple of weeks. I thought it might feel different the second time around because I know what it is like to hold that little baby; but it doesn’t really. I still don’t feel connected to this new little life. If anything, it’s just gone by more quickly without me noticing all of the little changes that take place. When I think about all of the love that we have for this one little boy it’s hard to imagine that it won’t be divided when we have more. I know that by God’s grace as we have more kids our love will be multiplied to each of them and that as we trust God He will use our family for the things that He wants to.