A time will arise in every person’s life where the pull of connection is drawn into the mind. That connection could come in a myriad of ways. Perhaps the connection is symbiotic with a paternal/maternal draw to parenthood. Maybe the connection stems from love for a pet. It is even possible to say that the connection links to an inanimate object rather than a living thing.
Regardless of the connection, most people will feel the tug of this connection at some point in their life. I have wanted a child for several years now. The strong pull of paternal feelings have tugged at my inner self for the last few years, and I realized I was ready to become a father. Unbeknownst to me, that pull would reveal itself in such a strange and powerful way.
On a warm, fateful evening in 2017, I received an accidental Skype call from a friend on the aforementioned World of Potter roleplaying website. That call started out as an innocuous conversation that eventually blossomed into something special. For the two weeks following that conversation, I started to realize the possibility of finding love again. Pursuant to that idea, I began to realize that love came in many forms.
Love isn’t necessarily romantic when it falls outside the pitfalls of family and friends. It can be a deeper love without the romantic draw of future stability.
During a Skype call one evening, a small being runs into view of the camera and says, “Mama?” My heart immediately melted into butter in my hands as I stared on in awe at the unbelievably adorable sight in front of my naive eyes. Little did I know that the scene playing out in front of me would one day become a firm foundation in the very essence of my life.
Fast forward a few months, and the once mysterious non-romantic love has now transformed into a love so powerful that even 569 miles couldn’t hold it back.
The love of my life had a daughter. That daughter is not biologically linked to me in any way, shape, or form. But can a powerful love for another in a romantic sense be transformed and molded into a paternal love for a child?
I found myself in the precarious situation where I was forced to learn how to love all over again. No biological love stemmed from my psyche, but there was something special about the child that would one day feel like my own. Nothing was destined or ingrained in me to love that child. Love was learned.
The first few months were the toughest. I had to traipse carefully over hot coals with every waking moment. Given that the young girl had a biological father with whom she spent fifty percent of her time, what role could I possibly fill in her life? Was it necessary for me to even try to be a father or was my role sequestered to the side as mom’s new boyfriend?
I was unsure of my actions in discipline, teaching, and care. Unfortunately, my role felt more like a fun uncle rather than a father figure. She had three uncles and a grandfather with whom she lived for part of the time. She had a biological father. What role could I fill?
Situation by situation would arise, and I found myself struggling through many of the obstacles found in normal fatherhood. When should I step in to help? Should I attempt to teach her things? Every day was a constant battle as I worked tirelessly to find my niche in her life.
One day, her mother had to work an extra two hours past when she would normally work. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time, so I was tasked with picking her up from daycare so we wouldn’t be charged for the full day’s worth of childcare. I gladly undertook the charge, a small part of me hoping that this would begin a foundation of trust and care in our relationship.
She was instantly upset that her mother couldn’t pick her up, and she was even more upset that it would be several hours before she would see her. I asked her if she was happy to at least spend some time with me, and she just cried. A part of me deflated, collapsed as I sat there dejectedly, wondering what it would take for her to be happy to see me. Giving up isn’t really my style, and I don’t do things part way. It was going to be a battle, so I donned my armor and prepared for the toughest fight of my life.
Fast forward a year, and the situation has finally transformed into a comfortable albeit contested relationship. I am more comfortable with disciplining, but I still hold back more than I should. Patience has become an undeniable virtue, as I understand that it is not my place to truly discipline her. Unfortunately, this also means that I might lose the respect necessary in a parental relationship in later years. Balance is still a fickle fiend.
Now we come to the present. I feel much more comfortable saying no. My patience is still intact, but there are definitely times when I get to the edge of that patience and have to ask for help from her mother. We play together, snuggle, and at times, it really does feel like a father/daughter relationship. We still have our struggles, and we always will. Thankfully, I’m not in this fight alone.
I didn’t know that the paternal pull to become a father meant that I would have to learn to love a child rather than doing so inherently. But that love carries no less strength than if she was my own. Overall, the situation was an accident, but it was purposeful in nature. I fulfilled that connection.
One day, I still want children of my own, but for now, I’m blessed with a beautiful, intelligent, and strangely erratic little girl with no blood ties.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.