Fatherhood is better than gold – Don’t take it for granted

June 17, 2023

The writer and his son, Jonathan, in a 2020 photo.

(Thomas Froese)

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(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, June 17, 2023)

“We’re losing Jonathan.” I blurted out the words in the backyard to my sister during a recent gathering. Jonathan, that’s Jonathan Thomas Froese, is Child #2. The boy. It felt strange to hear the words tumble from my mouth.

We’re not losing Jon to any prodigal ways. Or to terminal illness. And we’re not losing him like we lost him some years ago in Uganda, the day when we – his two sisters, his mother, myself, and others – were looking for him rather frantically

We circled the house and ran up and down nearby banana patches and called and called and called his name. Finally, while I faced dark thoughts about what can happen to a lost little boy in a place like Uganda, I found him asleep in his bedroom closet, behind a blanket on a shelf five feet up. Good grief.

Yes, if you’re a new father – Canada has about nine million dads – Happy Father’s Day, man. Now get used to it, this certain anxiety that fits parents like a glove. Wear it well. It’s part of the package, the deal, nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. Your fears, in fact, are a sign of your love, imperfect and human as it is.

Another day, by the way, my boy came home to announce to me that he’d lost his underwear at school. This isn’t to embarrass him, (there are worse things to lose in life than your underwear), as much as to say that the best way around common parental anxiety is to hold onto everyday humour.

Anyway, like enough other young people, Jonathan is being lost to university. In this case, he’ll soon leave home for aerospace engineering studies a long train ride away. Sure, we’ll still connect. But his mother and I will fiercely miss our boy’s easy-going presence.

I’m reminded that while the days of raising your kids can go slow, the years go strangely fast. So be intentional. The time is like gold, really, not to be squandered.

Of course, a man with a dime can squander it, just like a man with a million dollars can squander that. But whatever you have, don’t be like the poor dad in that old Harry Chapin song, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” who foolishly squanders it all. “We’ll get together then, son.” Sure. But dad is always distracted by lesser things and, no surprise, his boy is later absent, “just like dad.”

Like any father, there are things I wish I’d never said to my son. And things I wish I’d said more often. But my boy has my eyes, and when I’m not looking entirely frayed, anyone can see this. I’m pleased about this because there’s something about the eyes and the soul. Something redeeming.

But even if Jonathan didn’t look anything like me (hats off to all the stepdads and adoptive dads out there) I’m more pleased about other things. There are balls and gloves and bikes and blades all worn to one degree or another. Movies have been watched, as have sports and games, many with my son in them. Photos abound.

We’ve sometimes taken off, just us two men, to here and there where we might drive country roads faster than we should, or climb steep lakeside bluffs, or sit in the gentle morning light at that pier near that Canadian flag, with our breakfast or ice-cream or thoughts about nothing in particular.

For Jonathan’s 18th birthday, same as for his sisters, he and I will go west to the mountains before returning east through the Prairies, eventually home. Which is all to say that I’m a lucky father, a lucky “Paps” as Jonathan calls me, to have a boy who still humours me with such times together.

Because for this Paps it really is all like gold. Only better. If you’ve experienced something similar, don’t ever forget it. Don’t take it for granted, either. Not on Father’s Day. Or any other day.

Thank you, son.

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June 17, 2023 • Posted in ,
Contact Thomas at [email protected]


4 thoughts on “Fatherhood is better than gold – Don’t take it for granted”

  1. Fatherhood is both a great responsibility and a great blessing. Precious are the memories.

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