Published 12:00 am Friday, June 15, 2007

By Marcus Hovis
For the Salisbury Post
The Mother’s Day weekend edition of the Salisbury Post provided mothers the opportunity to reminisce about their memories of motherhood. It seems only fair that we fathers be afforded the same opportunity. One might argue that it is not the nature of a man to share the side that allows his feelings to show, but I believe we father’s can reflect on the subject of fatherhood nonetheless.
The bad news is there is no manual to teach us how to be good dads. So, where is the information? Were we out of the room when “how to be a dad” was explained?
I remember my wife talking to a host of resources from her mother, other moms (both experienced and expectant), medical professionals and others about breast-feeding, diaper changing and expectations when caring for an infant.
I recall huddles of expectant mothers at the ob/gyn office for their routine appointments (yes, I went with my wife), gathered in a corner, talking baby talk. In fact, the “talk” goes on as daughters and sons become teenagers.
Nowhere, though, do I recall Fatherhood 101.
At no time have I had another father come to me and ask about changing a diaper.
Nowhere have I had another father inquire about what I said to my daughter about this thing called puberty. To be sure, some topics, such as puberty, especially when a daughter is involved, are best left for mom to explain.
No, instead it seems in my experience, the simplest, most important message about learning to be a good father is just do it.
Now, having said that, I also need to say that we dads cannot assume rearing a daughter or son is going to be the easiest thing ever attempted. Being a dad is hard work, and it often means making hard choices. An important thing to remember is that our daughters and sons are people, too. We are to provide for our children the tools they need for life. Composing such a philosophy about fathering is easy; fulfilling the role, while rewarding, is challenging.
While I feel pretty good about myself as a father, I am not perfect. In my opinion, perfect dads are creepy. I do not deserve an award for being a “good” father; it is who and what I am supposed to be to the daughter who was born from the love and conscious decision between her mother and I.
I cherish my daughter for the remarkable being she is and for everything she can become. I love helping her learn. Sometimes, I want to sit and relax, but help is needed with homework. I love being part of her play, whether that is sports or watching television. This also gives me a reason to feel young again.
What is it that turns a grown man into a sentimental, sensitive sweetheart the moment his daughter comes into the world? I believe you have to be a dad to understand that. Thirteen years of experience is now behind me; many more years are yet unseen, and I cannot imagine not having some memory, thought or experience of my daughter in my everyday life. Watching the development (yes, even the teen years) of her personality provides many laughs and brings joy to our home.
Seeing the world through her eyes, watching her reactions, brings joy to my life.
What is great about being a dad? Each man has to answer that in his own terms. However, in the end do not put pressure on yourself to be the “perfect dad.” The fact is, he does not exist.
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Marcus Hovis lives in Salisbury with his wife, Vanessa, and daughter, Meredith.