At some point, I realised that while I became a father at fifty, and this is not the usual age one becomes a father for the first time, that I was quite aware of the advantages (and disadvantages) of being a father (first) at fifty.
Or getting married late in life.
I see younger couples struggling to juggle the demands of their marriage, and perhaps parenthood, together with their other pursuits, and their need to commit to their careers, and I do sympathise.
But there is an element of schadenfreude too, as I am glad I am not them.
For me, I have had all the time to pursue my hobbies and interests in my (misspent) youth, and have advanced as far as I can in (what I laughably call) my career, that there is nothing that I am sacrificing in being a parent.
Yes, there are pangs and twinges, and I do realise that if I were free to do as I please, I would be watching movies (Logan, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy V2), or theatre shows (No Man’s Land).
But compared with spending time with Z, those are frivolous pursuits.
At least, I consider them to be frivolous. Now.
Anyway, one morning, Z had a fever and a cough that had persisted for some time. She had been feverish in the night and we had dosed her with paracetamol and sponged her down when her temperature spiked, but it had been two nights.
PL had an important meeting she couldn’t get out of. Well, not easily, and if things were really serious, she would have dropped everything else for Z.
I had sorted out all the more urgent things at work, and so I was taking Z to the doctor. PL will make it back in the afternoon.
And so I spent the morning at the doctor’s with Z, and then it was back home to medicate Z, and then Z decided that she had held her head up long enough and decided she wanted a lie down.
So I spent the morning tending to Z with her cough and her fever and being drowsy at times, and then demanding I read to her as she tried to sleep, and then finally, she asked for milk.
And as she drowsed against me, drinking her milk from the bottle, it occurred to me, that I did not want to be anyplace else.
Sure, I would rather she was not feverish and coughing, and she was well, but if she wasn’t, then I really have nothing more important to do than to be there with her. Nothing even close.
I told PL later when she returned, that I am ready for this point in my life. That at this point in my life, there is nothing more important than spending time with Z.
To be sure, I am not claiming that I am perfect or that other fathers do not feel the same way. I am sure they too have their priorities, and that most of them will prioritise their children over other pressing concerns. I am just feeling blessed that I do not have any other priorities. None that even comes close. And that is not because I have my priorities straight. That is simply a factor of my age and present status in life. I think it is a blessing to be a father late in life, and to have no other priorities. This is not because of any great planning or insight on my part as to the importance of being a father.
And in that, I am blessed.