In my last blog post, I shared that this photo taken at Little Foot’s first birthday party meant a lot to me.
I didn’t elaborate why, but today I felt I should revisit this photo.
Growing up, I didn’t really experience this. Being a typical chinese family, fathers in those days hardly saw it as their duty to be carrying baby, changing nappies, burping babies. Kids were probably a byproduct of marriage. My father was present but absent in the better part of my growing up life. He was the one who would give pocket money, the one who drove us to school. That was about it. We only sat down for dinners together on occasions.
Growing up on a family of five kids meant that our parents’ attention would be divided… and they were busy making ends meet. Their marriage also had its ups and downs.
Growing up, I often felt a tinge of deep sadness when I see fathers carrying their children, holding their hands, sharing a conversation, having fun. The last time my dad carried me was when I was nine years old. I almost fainted in Chinatown during the festive season. So he carried me out of the crowds. That was the last time. At my wedding, it was awkward to hug him. We had so many missed opportunities over the years that could have made us closer as father and daughter… time could not be turned back.
Today, when I was out for lunch, I saw a man carrying his son, and the boy protested saying “but I’m not a baby!” I wish I could tell the boy, “lucky you…”
Which is why I revisited this photo. It carried what I really hope for my daughter to have – a father that will be completely involved in her growing up years. A relationship with us that is without invisible walls.
I didn’t want to have children because I couldn’t be sure I could be a good parent, or that the family we gave you will always be a happy one, and your childhood would be without worries. I didn’t want you to have a childhood like mine, where your parents were never in the crowd when your band performed, when you wondered why yours was the only family that didn’t have dinners daily together, or even travelled together.
The family I grew up in gave me a great relationship with my siblings, making up for the absence of our parents’ outward expression of love. In their own ways, I’m sure they did and still do care. Just not as visible as others.
Little Foot, I’m happy your Papa had been so hands on…. he wanted you so much before I could even imagine being a mother. And he has walked the talk to date. I hope he will always be the involved papa, your first hero, your first idol.
This photo has washed away any doubts and fears that I may have had. Not a perfect papa, but the best that he can be.
I couldn’t have asked for more.
Photo credit: Matthew Photography