So what to say about this coming Sunday, my 11th anniversary of celebrating Father’s Day as a dad?
After all, it’s an unfinished journey, so maybe I should wait a few more years to say something meaningful? Or when the kids have all grown up and flown the coop?
Yet, as I turn 50 in two weeks, I find myself arriving at yet another one of those crossroads. You know, the ones you reach when you hit another decade and wonder: what will the next ten years look like?
And in this case, it really is THE crossroad, since 50 is generally accepted as the middle of pretty much everything. Think 50% discount. The 50th percentile. The minimum 50 marks you need to pass every dreaded test you’ve ever taken!
All I can think about though, as I mark this Father’s Day and my soon-to-be half-centurian status, is: I want to have 50 more years to celebrate it!
Had I become, say, a father at 20 years of age. Definitely. Or add another ten to make it an even 30. Conceivably. Try another ten more, and it starts to feel like a stretch. But at 40. Possibly.
Now, how about adding ten more and making it a formidable 50 more years of fatherhood?! What? You exclaim. I’m kidding, right? Do the math and one quickly realizes that I’m asking God to let me live until 100! That’s akin to returning to the Old Testament days, where men lived well beyond a century.
Then again, my father did leave us six years ago at the ripe old age of 98, so I do come from “good stock”.
Oh, how I wish my father’s long life can be mine too! Having struggled for nine years after my wedding to finally become a father at 39, an age when most of my peers’ kids were already taking their PSLE, it’s not hard to imagine how much I value and treasure my two boys, now aged 11 and nine.
The bible says that from God’s perspective, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day (Psalm 90:4). I certainly felt all of those thousand years nearly every day, during the first nine barren years of our marriage. The anguish, anxiety and agonizing wait that my wife and I endured were indescribable.
So many days we wrestled with God as we looked around at our quiet and empty house, calling out for His mercy and grace. And many times our cries returned to us like echoes in a large and lonely canyon. It felt like there was no one listening. The silence was so deafening most nights I just collapsed on my knees in bitter tears, with my fists pointing angrily at the heavens above, asking, “Why? Why? Why?”
Yes, it was at many points that dramatic. Because the sense of helplessness was that real.
Flash forward to today though, and fatherhood has been an unbelievable journey for me. These past 11 years have been invaluable both for me and my wife. Parenting teaches you life in a way no other experience can, and I couldn’t be happier and more grateful to God.
Certainly, there have been tough days. Like when my eldest came down with HFMD. Twice. And both times passing the germs to his daddy!
Or when my youngest was officially diagnosed with autism, even as we spent many a day before suspecting; desperately praying and willing it not to be true.
Still, I wouldn’t trade all those moments with my children for anything. In the bible, Jesus says to “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Our Lord clearly has a special place in His heart for the little ones.
That’s how I feel about my little ones too!
It’s because of them that I was finally able to celebrate that first Father’s Day, 11 years ago. And it’s because of them that I want so much to continue celebrating Father’s Day for another 11, 20, 30….and yes, 50 years…and more!
So to all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day! May your children still have you with them for another 11, 20, 50 years, and more.
[A version of this post was also published here on 19 June 2020]