Dedan K. Bruner
Father of 2
“Oh, man, I can’t believe you're gonna do it again! Are you crazy? Wouldn’t be me!”
All too often this was the reaction when I told people my new wife and I were expecting. I was excited but did have some trepidation at the thought of starting the parenting journey all over again with a new baby. I was older and my daughter was due to graduate from college 1 month before our due date. What was I thinking?
I first became a father at 23. I had so much energy back then. I embraced the midnight feedings, terrible twos, the tea parties, and even the teenage hormones. I had finally, as one of my friends put it, “gotten one kid out of my pocket and house.” I felt like the parenting marathon was ending just as I made the decision to lace-up and run it again. Make no mistake, I love being a father and my daughter tells me I am a good dad but as a man dangerously close to 50, I wondered what it would be like the second time around. Would I have the same energy and stamina to do it over again the same way? The hard truth is that I may not.
As a kid, my own father was absent from my life and there weren’t very many men in my neighborhood that I could point to as good examples of what a father should be. So, at 23 I was, for the most part, winging it. Young and often uncertain, I put college on hold and worked two jobs to support my young family. There were times I worried if I would be able to provide everything my daughter needed and deserved. Today, my concerns are different. Father Time is undefeated and my current anxiety related to parenting is more closely tied to health and time. Having a younger child demands a certain level of vitality. When my son is 15, I likely won’t be able to demonstrate how to dunk a basketball or clear a hurdle. I may not be around to see him parent his own children. These are some of the hard truths I’ve had to come to terms with. I know there are no promises in life, at any age but I’ve realized that life presents us with all kinds of limitations and deficits and though I may not be able to do it again the same way I can do it again.
While I understand the realities of starting a family late in life, I try not to give into that energy and to instead focus on things that I can control. I’ve given a lot of thought as to the benefits of parenting at this stage. At 47 I can offer my son more financial stability, patience and the experience that I lacked with my daughter. I can offer him the opportunity to grow up in a home where his parent’s marriage is healthy and happy and one of teamwork (my first marriage ended in divorce when my daughter was 7.) In the final analysis, perhaps those things are more important. I want my son to learn as much as he can from me while he can. My hope is that I can demonstrate the importance of healthy living and my goal is to teach him to value time and those around him.
The joys of parenting will far outweigh the challenges. It’s worth it and choosing to have another child was the right decision. And so… here we go! I’ll continue to pray for luck as I raise my son and watch him grow into a conscious, self-reliant and exceptional man.