Father of the Year - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Now, I would never be so arrogant as to bestow the title of “Father of the Year” on myself, but it does make for a good title to this column. A more appropriate title, perhaps, would have been “Father of a Year”.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, back in March of 2020, I began keeping a notebook for my work here at The Citizen. Previously, I never had trouble keeping things straight and would almost never forget a story, a deadline or anything else pertaining to my job. But, when the pandemic hit and uncertainty from week to week became the name of the game, I needed help to keep organized. Since then, I’ve been making note in that book of editorial ideas, story lists and other to-do items.
I had a moment the other day and I flipped back to the page planning for one year ago, the June 25, 2020 issue, and there was a star in the top righthand corner, reminding me to write an extra column or two in advance of our due date.
Our due date was July 8, but Jess went into labour in the late hours of June 26. We went to Goderich, were sent to Stratford, and then, at 11:23 a.m. on June 27, our daughter was born. So, while I had the opportunity to reflect on being a father for the first time on the weekend for my first (official) Father’s Day, I am now days away from Tallulah’s first birthday.
Spending my first year as a father under the cloud of a pandemic has been many things. It’s been frustrating, worrying and upsetting, but it’s also been joyous, educational and loving. I have written this before, but I think years from now, Jess and I will look back at this year with Tallulah, in many ways hidden from the world, and appreciate the time we were able to spend together, free from pop-ins, mandatory family and friend visits, play dates and everything else that can eat away at your time together. It was just two parents and their infant child; a small, loving family learning together.
That scenario has its drawbacks, of course, in that grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and neighbours suffered as a result, but it has almost felt like the parenting equivalent of the early days of many relationships. You know: the two of you in a tiny apartment with no money, no furniture and no food, but you’re in love - all before mortgages, careers, joint bank accounts and doing each other’s laundry.
The first year of Tallulah’s life, again, under a pandemic, has at once felt glacial and rapid. However, becoming a father is truly the most important thing I’ve done in my life.
Of course, I’m not even close to the first person to posit that, but I have learned that all of the clichés are true. It does change you and it is, in many ways, the most important job one can have. (I am, of course, including being a mother in this for the women - we can just say being a parent.)
Becoming a father has taught me a lot about life and about being alive. It has also taught me about what is important and how that can clash dramatically with what we think is important.
So much of what we do here at The Citizen is wrapped up in complaining. We complain in our columns and editorials, residents complain in letters or at council meetings, councillors complain in their capacity as elected officials and Denny complains about, well, everything.
I have found I complain a lot less these days (though some will no doubt disagree with me). There are things to get worked up over, but I find they are a lot different for me than they used to be. Becoming a father has done that.
I am lucky, I am challenged, I am learning, I am caring and loving and I want to be a good person for Tallulah because I am a father.