Last November, Caspian came into our world. He joined his kuya Malcolm, Nanay (mother, aka my wife :D), and me. We are now a family of 4! And I became a father to two sons.
My wife and I entered a new stage of our lives. As we take care of our children, one of them an infant, we are far away from family.
Malcolm is in Kindergarten and I go to my office 5 days a week. Meanwhile Nanay takes care of Caspian all throughout the day. This is a new experience for us.
Away from Family and All Things Familiar
When Malcolm was a baby, we were still in the Philippines, surrounded by family. Every weekend, we went to Nanay’s home in the province. He would spend some time with uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Nanay has 5 other siblings and all but one of them had families then. Malcolm had 8 cousins. It was a riot but it was fun and we did have family to lean on when we needed any kind of help.
In addition, we also had a helper who stayed with us. In the Philippines, we could afford to hire a house-help who stayed with us. Nanay and I worked, although I was working from home due to the nature of my job.
This time, though, it’s just us. We take care of all house chores, take care of Kuya (big brother), and bunso (youngest child). To be honest, parenting in the United States is way different from what we were used to in the Philippines.
Still, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We prayed for both of our sons for at least a year before they came. We are thankful for family and the joy of being parents no matter how difficult it may be.
On the Other Side of Father Issues
Growing up my father was a disciplinarian. When it came to discipline, he was old school. Spanking, yup! He inherited this form of discipline from his own mother. You can bet I did not appreciate it when I was a kid. It’s not fun to be yelled at or spanked. I grew up with a certain fear of my father.
We had a lot of conversations about it when I became an adult, probably in my mid-twenties. But I never truly understood it until I, myself, became a father.
Discipline is tough. And it is so much more difficult when you have a Kindergartner who is strong-willed and has recently become a big brother after being the only child for 5 years!
He and I had a difficult week in January where we slugged it out in the morning. I prepared myself to go to the office and I helped him prepare for school.
Maybe it was because of the stress of adjusting. He, learning to cope with a new baby in the house. It’s no longer just Malcolm, Nanay, and Tatay. He now has to share parental time with Caspian. He loves his brother dearly. But adjusting to a new family arrangement is still difficult for a kindergartner.
As for me, it’s easier to scream and “put the foot down” as a father… to take the old school approach to disagreements and a child who is acting up. But it sucks.
After you’ve expended your anger, after you spank your kid, there’s emotional hole, a hollow in your heart and you remember all those painful memories of receiving the same from your father.
Then your heart hurts and you just want to hug your child and rewind time so you could erase painful words you’ve spoken.
You also wonder if you’ve ruined them for life.
This is what it feels like on the other end of “father issues.” At least for me.
Learning to be a Father…
After that incident, I decided to try a different tack. I decided to err on the side of patience and caution. I recognize that Malcolm is a strong-willed boy and he is also pretty sensitive. So I made adjustments to our morning routine, talked to him more about our new life as a family of four, and committed to screaming less and displaying patience more.
I also borrowed some parenting books from the library. I want to learn and be a good father and enjoy watching my boys grow into young men.