Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fill-in Fatherhood

So far the preliminary investigation into the Steve McNair shooting seems to point toward a crime of passion or something like it,once again showing that while political and religious ideologies may motivate the large-scale human tragedies, sex continues to inflict similar damage a few lives at a time. I'm glad that my romantic misadventures were relatively uneventful; no criminal acts resulted, and the civil litigation, while vexing and distasteful, was a teardrop in a rainstorm compared to many divorces.

Among the people who have been interviewed about McNair is Jim Fassel, who worked in various capacities for the Baltimore Ravens when McNair was there. A few years ago when Fassel was quarterbacks coach for the Ravens, he likened it to his previous job as head coach of the New York Giants as the difference between being a grandfather and being a father. That comparison has been on my mind lately as Grandbaby and her Mom continue to cohabit with us.

To my thinking, a father bears ultimate responsibility; he is accountable for the health and well-being of the children he brought into the world. This means constantly making decisions, often impromptu and unpleasant ones, then dealing with whatever consequences arise. It also means maintaining a certain disciplinary persona. Being a Dad has made me a better person, and my daughter has been just about as good a kid as I could have desired, but fatherhood has been a source of huge anxiety and tension. Seeing my daughter grow up to be a fine young lady hasn't just been a matter of fatherly pride; it's also brought a gigantic feeling of relief. The hardest part of the divorce from her mother was the uncertainty of raising her in such a situation (I got custody).

Grandfather,on the other hand, is a pretty sweet gig. Gramps has already been through it, made his mistakes, and (hopefully) learned from them, so he's not as easily rattled as the parents. He also doesn't have the 24-hour responsibility of running the household, so he can be more indulgent, as well as provide a broader perspective that parents,especially young parents, can lose in the day-to-day stresses. There is also the practical perk of being only an emergency provider of child maintenance such as diaper-related activities.

Those of you who have suffered through my previous posts know that I live by the shore of Lake Estrogen; females abound in my household. Add to this the departure of Grandbaby's father from the vicinity and I find myself having to uphold the masculine end of things,which means some fatherly duties as well as being Grandpa. This isn't a big deal, but it brings back some of the old anxieties. But my current wife has been fantastic with and for my daughter, and I plan to continue to do whatever I can to help out her daughter and Grandbaby (I'm babysitting as I post this), even if it means recalling some old skills that I had hoped not to have to use again.