What follows, then, is some further reflections on being a parent. Although I seem to be expanding my definition of fatherhood. I am seeing fatherhood in terms of my own child who has gone off to college, and other young (and not so young) people to whom I serve as a surrogate, or at least a spiritual, father.
- Parenting never stops. My mother has been trying to tell me this for years. She said, "Your little grow will grow up, but you will always be her dad. I have no question about that. She's been gone two weeks and I have already received three "send money" phone calls. I know that our relationship will change and grow, but she is not rid of me yet.
- I now know how my parents felt (and feel). At various times during the last 30 years I thought my parents were crazy, weird, annoying and aggravating. Now I am starting to understand. They love me and want to be sure that I am alright. That's how I feel about my child. I just hope I can survive her thinking that I am crazy, weird, annoying and aggravating. One good thing is that I have always known Mom and Dad loved me. I hope my daughter always knows and remembers that.
- Being a parent to others. I have always had a special relationship to young people. In any group there will be two or three kids who "get" me. They understand what I stand for and what I am trying to do with my life. For a few of these I have become a parent. To many others I feel very paternal. In fact, right now I am trying to be "Dad" to one young man in Africa. (He even calls me Dad.) I am finding joy and a release in this new kind of parenting.