“I’ll Follow My Father’s footsteps”
By: Lorenzo Serna
What comes to mind when you think about a father’s role in the family? When I think about this question these are some things that immediately come to my mind:
A father is there to provide comfort in the presence of fear, and ensures his children that there are no monsters under the bed.
A father teaches his children how to be brave and take on the world; and when they fail, he’s there to encourage them to get right back up and back on the proper path.
A father teaches his children how to take on responsibility.
A father teaches the meaning of love through his endless sacrifice for his wife and kids.
A father leads by example, leaving behind a life-long trail of footsteps for his children to follow—especially his boys.
This is what I imagine when I picture the role of a father.
Sadly, this image is only alive in my head, because this was far from my experience.
Truth is: I had no footsteps to follow.
Unfortunately, my situation isn’t unique—growing up with an absent father. From childhood into my teenage years I could count on my two hands how many times my dad was physically present. It wasn’t until I found out he was in prison, around the age of sixteen, that we began to form a real relationship between us. It has been quite the process, but from that point in time we have continued to slowly build upon our relationship over the years.
I am lucky.
I am very fortunate to have avoided becoming another unfavorable statistic (which is the case for many children with absent fathers); I was raised by a wonderful, hardworking mother, and blessed with great friends and family who helped me stay out of trouble.
When I hit my twenties I was able to reflect back on my life growing up, and realized how much it affected me not having my father around. (I’ll elaborate on this in future blogs. Stay tuned!)
But aside from everything I did miss out on, the most important thing that stood out to me was the fact that I didn’t have a father who would provide me with the necessary tools I would need when the time came for me to be a father.
The Light of My Life
You can imagine the great sense of fear I felt upon first learning I was soon to take on the responsibility of being a father. Not fear in the sense that I was scared of a child. But fear of inadequacy in a world unknown—I was stepping into the dark with no light to guide me.
Or so I thought.
It turns out I found my light. And this light took the shape of my beautiful boy Eli.
My Imperfect Journey
I want to share with you some of my experience with Eli. I am by no means an expert, which is exactly why I’ll do my best to refrain from offering parental advice. Instead, I would prefer to share my own experience as father: what influences my attitude towards parenting, the lessons I have learned (Yes, even the hard ones), and my every attempt to allow the light of my life to shine as brightly as it can in this world.
So here’s my story.... with all of its failure and pain and growth and beauty.
This is my imperfect journey.