As time passes, I can feel both the joys and the pressures of fatherhood. My life has centered around our daughter’s needs and ensuring that she is always happy and smiling.
Friends have instructed me on the importance of fatherhood. So many problems are caused by weak father figures. Often, the most traumatized and troubled souls lived with a weak or absent father figure. Studies indicate that children with absentee fathers or poor father figures tend to have more insecurities later in life.
I pray I won’t be a weak father figure. However, I realize that with my chronic illnesses, fatherhood may not be easy. I sometimes feel emasculated by my submissive and dependent nature. Unfortunately, that is the curse of chronic illness: People always want to help me.
I’m happy that my partner has seen some improvement in my attitude toward “husbandhood” and fatherhood. It’s hard to transition from my past life to my new situation, but I need to be the man of the house and serve as the leader, with my wife, Cza, on my right side and baby Cittie beneath our wings.
I don’t want Cittie to grow up and see me as a failure or a weakling. I have many chronic illnesses, but they shouldn’t stop me from trying even harder to become a positive father figure. I would be setting a bad example for Cittie if I constantly gave up. What happened to doing more than what’s expected of us? I don’t want to be an idol of complacency and fear for my family.
I’ve promised myself that I will do the best I can to be the best version of myself. I want to be my family’s leader. I don’t want to shame Cza and Cittie or put them in harm’s way. The world needs fathers, and now that I am one, I should wear that badge with pride.
If I am completely honest with myself, I often feel afraid. There are voices in my head telling me that because I’m sick, I won’t be a proper leader for my family. They tell me that I’ll be the one in need of constant care and attention, instead of my loved ones. I want these voices to stop, but it’s hard.
Self-respect and confidence aren’t exactly friends of mine (yet). They don’t come easily, especially when life makes you feel like you’re incomplete. However, I’m glad that Cittie motivates me to cultivate the attitude I need to become a better person. Our baby girl constantly reminds me that no matter how big or small my problems seem, there are things — like Cittie — that matter more.
The world needs fathers. The world does not revolve around my chronic illnesses, but it’s important that I acknowledge that they are a huge part of my identity. They are a roadblock between me and my desire for progress and success. What matters at the end of the day, though, is how I can make the most of my abilities so that I can become the best version of myself, regardless of my illnesses.
The voices in my head may never go away. But I take comfort in the possibility of fighting back by proving that I can be a better father figure. Chronic illness will serve as a constant reminder of my limitations, but I pray the 26 years I have lived with chronic illness have armed me with enough strength to make it through.
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