What does it mean to become a parent?
What does it mean to have a child; either biological or other?
I have been pondering these questions for a few years now. My first child, Alma, was born about 3 years ago and my second one, Qiyam, about a year ago. I am a biological parent to two lovely baby girls for some time now but I am still fighting to grasp the idea of becoming a father.
Few months before Alma was born, I actually Googled "how to become a father". As expected, I am not the only one feeling clueless while expecting their first one, which is why this particular blog that I have a been a fan ever since, keeps growing it's readership number. And when Alma was born, I was on my way to the other hemisphere for a study opportunity that I have been offered a couple of years before. I only get to see my firstborn in person when she was almost 1 year old.
So, that leaves me back to square one when it comes to parenting, or fathering, to be exact. It was like having a one year old delivered to your lap and you have to figure out how you're going to support this person physically, psychologically, morally, socially, financially, ... and so on, for her entire life. No amount of blog walking neither a library of great parenting textbooks can prepare you for what's coming. It is the truest emotional (and sometimes physical) roller-coaster journey that you simply can't get off from. There's neither joy nor pain; it's both all the time, all the place.
I mean, you can find yourself feeling like zombie at 3 a.m. from cradling for hours while trying to sleep when you little one's not feeling too well and your slightest move to rest one muscle fiber results in a haunting shriek from this... thing you're holding. Or when she is in her most radiant mood but she won't let you hug her for more than 2 seconds because she's too busy chasing something with her train of laughter.
So when my Alma tried a gown given by my mother this morning and she asked me to zip her up, a glimpse of her future life passed right before my eyes. Something struck a chord in my chest which almost condensate into tear but I would never know what it was. Was it dread, fear, or joy in me thinking that she would ultimately be an adult and ask a person to zip her up? Is that person still going to be me, her mother, her husband perhaps, or...?
I could not ask for more blessings in my life. Yet, ever since I become a father, there has been a realization in my mind that I am no longer living my life; that whatever I am doing as a father should be done to prepare for my family's life AFTER my death. This paradigm shift only started to occur when I become a father. I mean, never before I think about someone else's life in the event of me passing away.
I think, at least to me, this is the essence of becoming a parent: to prepare your offspring so that they're able to continue their life well even if you're not around anymore. And that is the best but also the hardest job to have. Period.