Fatherhood: A Definition

If you were to ask a room full of people to define the word fatherhood, your results would most likely be wildly varied. Views would range from affectionate to pragmatic and all would be firmly grounded in one thing.
The way we come to view fatherhood usually starts from the example set by our own. It could be absent, hurtful, stern, loving, gentle, healing, or none of the above, but one thing is for certain, it is an impression that leaves a lasting definition of the concept of fatherhood.
When approaching this topic I do so with caution. Not only because everyone’s experience is most likely completely different than mine, but also because my experience as a father myself is no more than a couple months old. I by no means claim to be an expert on this subject but do however feel like I can shine a little light on things that a lot of us already know.
This won’t be a guide to the “terrible twos,” nor is this a, “How To Save for your Teen’s College Fund,” seminar. (We should all be thankful that I am not attempting either of these things.) What I want to talk about is a particular moment in fatherhood. One that takes our deepest held understanding and well thought out labels applied to fatherhood and completely rips them to shreds.
The moment I’m talking about is the very second we become fathers. This pivotal, epically life shaking, moment is what will become our new foundation, laid down to support our new definition of fatherhood. (You will be reading this word more times than you ever have in one sitting, so get used to it.)
Prior to this moment, your definition of fatherhood has been wildly skewed. Not invalid or incorrect, but incomplete. It’s bound in a perspective solely informed by the role of child. You’ve tasted fatherhood only as as the recipient of it’s care or detriment. Constantly evaluating it based on how well you’ve been served as the beneficiary of this title not as the title holder.
Then one day, after years of steeping in a life as the employer of a hopefully wonderful father, you stand there holding a child of your own faced with the responsibility of being the employee of fatherhood. All of a sudden, your once selfish ideas and definitions are confronted with a necessitated selflessness as this tiny, fragile, messy, half of yourself sits against your chest.
The parts of you that defined fatherhood as a means to be served are now being met and contrasted by an overwhelming desire to serve.
    So what happened?
What brought about this instantaneous shift in a worldview that’s been brewing inside of you for longer than you can remember? In short…a lot of things.
A lot of emotion, a lot of pride in both your significant other and your new child, a lot of grace, a lot of love- a lot of things. This moment full of things is the the cornerstone of fatherhood and with it comes a realization of a more complete definition.
You become overwhelmed with enough love that if converted to raw energy could probably power Manhattan for the next millennia, (be prepared to cry) and enough compassion to quiet the straining, striving, and seeking of self service that has littered your acute understanding of fatherhood. It is in this moment, that only grace has brought you to, that you are able to assign new meaning to the concept of fatherhood. One that is selfless and is a complete role reversal.
It was as I sat there, staring deep into the eyes of my daughter of only a few minutes, that my life was changed and I finally understood that fatherhood was. Fatherhood is grace.
I couldn’t help but think on God and what is taught to us about His version of fatherhood. A fatherhood of patience, reproof, and love. That no matter the stinging rejection that His own children throw at Him, He still reaches for them in a grace that is not circumstantial or limited to only a handful of our wanderings but is grace, as it happens. He is not surprised by our iniquity nor is he daunted by it, though the knowledge of our present and future failures stare him in the face daily, His love never wanes.
This is the light bulb moment that found me in our postpartum suite and quickly widened my droopy, sleep deprived eyes. This precious child will fail me.
These tiny lips are the ones that may one day tell me a lie to cover up some wrong crafted by these little hands currently grasping my finger. The feet that are currently not able to support her, may be the very things to carry her into the house way past curfew to the dismay of her mother and I.
These are all real possibilities. Real failures, that will most likely occur throughout her life and cause real disappointment. But it changes nothing. My love is not waived by the knowledge of her future wrong doing nor will I withhold grace after some “last straw.” She will just as much be my daughter then, as she is now. And she will be just as much deserving of love and grace then, as she is now while she can do no wrong.
    So with these lessons learned, I’ve made a few commitments.
  1.   Consider my impact on my daughter’s definition of fatherhood.

    I can be a benefit or a detriment. Choose wisely.

  2.    Lean into the Grace that has been given to me.

    My own forgiveness is a good stepping stool for getting off of my high horse.

  3.  Love Obviously.

    Through the highs and lows of life with my child I will love in a way that is blatant. It may not always be understood by her in the moment and there will be times that I fail at this, but love in a way that she will never have to question my intentions. I will do my best to have no “final straw,” to  have grace and to participate in Fatherhood, as it happens.

    I hope this is helpful and I hope you enjoy fatherhood to it’s fullest.
    Love big and love obviously.

2 thoughts on “Fatherhood: A Definition

  1. Cindy Lane says:

    Ever since I met you, Konnor, you have blown my mind with your incredible insights. Our Father has blessed your little Delta with a wonderful daddy who will always be there for his little girl. Much love to your family.


    • Katherine Elizabeth Arnaud-Leblanc says:

      He truly does have a way with words that I can’t wrap my mind around sometimes, and he is the sweetest daddy!


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