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Fathers spending so much time with children

Of father’s love, call of duty, and memories for a lifetime

Every decade of your life brings new meaning to your father’s life.

In your first 10 years, he is the superhero who slays the proverbial dragons and monsters when you are asleep. The following decade, he is your best friend who always has your back, but more importantly, he is your greatest critic, who shares crucial life lessons, whether you want them or not. In your 20s, you begin to understand who he really is, someone who will never leave your side even if you leave his. When you step into your 30s, you finally learn the true meaning of ‘father’—a timeless experience that begins with the birth of his child, through which he learns to be a better father every day, as he strives to keep you safe and happy. The one thing he never has to learn though, is how to love you for it comes most naturally to him.

Becoming a father is like taking a deep dive everyday into a plethora of emotions and emerging anew. It is like leaving the old life behind to embrace a new world—a world that begins and ends with the little person who is the size of the two palms.

Every father’s greatest wish that often remains unfulfilled is to spend as much time with his children as he can. A father would give anything to be there for every one of those precious moments, big or small—the first steps, graduation ceremonies, driving lessons, the first love, starting a family.

Between professional responsibilities, social commitments and duties at home, most fathers struggle to spend quality time with their children. Especially when work keeps them away from home for long periods­. And despite best efforts, sometimes birthdays and holidays do get missed. However, to everyone’s surprise, this norm recently made way for some exception. While the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc throughout the world, it brought the most unexpected opportunity for families to spend time together. The global lockdown proved to be a blessing in disguise especially for fathers who could finally spend quality time with their families and make up to their children for all the lost time.

What his responsibilities didn’t allow him to do as an army officer and as a commercial pilot, he has been able to do it during the lockdown.

Says commercial helicopter pilot Capt. Madhu K Valsaraj, “Living under one roof, for a long stretch, has been a rare experience for my family—probably for the first time in the last three decades! We have discovered each other from a fresh perspective and have become emotionally more homogenous. We are loving it with all the pros and cons.”

Offering a glimpse into his life, this father of two daughters says in this regard, his life has taken a turn for the better following the lockdown. What his responsibilities didn’t allow him to do as an army officer and as a commercial pilot, he has been able to do it during the lockdown.

In a similar situation, Col. (Retd) P K Das spent most of his tenure away from his family due to the exigencies of service in the Army. “I have always been away on duty all over India. This deprived me of my time with my children when they were growing up,” says Col. Das. “Due to the three-month lockdown, I am lucky to have spent time with my older daughter. We spend a lot of quality time from breakfast to dinner, cooking special dishes together, watching TV together and sharing stories and experiences with each other. I am getting to know her better. This experience has been overwhelming and I can now make up for what I have missed in life.”

Fathers who have been away for a long time look forward to two things when they come home—to spend quality time with their children—learn about their lives, hear their stories and complaints.  They want to ensure their children are on the right path and their absence has not led to their children becoming bitter or reckless. They worry, even when everything is okay.

This lockdown has given time to fathers to not only do things together with their children, but also to get to know each other better. “Spending quality time does enrich the father-daughter relationship which is of paramount importance… it improves the bonding,” adds Col. Das.

For fathers of younger children, what could be a better time than now to teach them valuable life lessons. A rare opportunity has presented itself for fathers to contribute to their children’s wellbeing, not just on the surface but also mentally and emotionally.

Like many other fathers, Capt. Valsaraj expresses his appreciation for this unprecedented phase. “Beyond a certain age, children want to spread their wings and fly. As a forward-thinking father, engaged in a high-risk job, I have let them face challenges on their own. The lockdown has allowed me to affirm the same,” says Capt. Valsaraj. Talking about the “how”, he further adds, “Whenever I get a chance, I try sharing pearls of wisdom that I have gained from my experiences. This is an aspect I have missed until now, and I think they did too.”

One day the pandemic will be over, life will go back to normal, and fathers will go back to their jobs away from their children. It won’t be easy—because of the memories they had created with their children at this time. But it won’t be impossible either. Fathers know the value of the quality time they had spent with their children. They know it brought them closer and gave them a chance to say things they couldn’t earlier. And that’s all that matters. They won’t have any sign of regret or sadness, but a smile that will not disappear any time soon.

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