By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Let’s be honest and open here – at 44, almost 45, I’m a bit long in the tooth to be the father of a toddler. But, here we are. I was 43 when my son was born. That’s the same age my grandfather was when I was born. Many of my peers and high school classmates have already raised their children, and are enjoying their grandchildren. When my little one graduates high school, I’ll be in my early 60s.
I already know I’m probably going to be confused for grandpa at school sporting events when he’s old enough to play basketball and soccer. (Or, possibly, when he’s a band geek like his old man was.) My beard is going grey at a frightening pace, and I expect that by the time he starts Kindergarten it will be fully white.
I’ve already been mistaken for grandpa, in fact. When he was just a few months old, and mommy was busy with work, I took him with me for a run in to a local convenience store. While we stood in line waiting and I beamed and talked to my little guy, the older gentleman running the register smiled over at us. When I got to the counter he asked, “Is this your first?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“I remember my first grandson too,” he said. “Nothing else like it in the world. Almost as good as becoming a daddy for the first time. He’ll end up being your best friend.”
Awkward doesn’t begin to describe the situation as I informed him that, no, this was my first, and likely only, child.
His mother is, obviously, a bit younger than me, and she already has another ten-year-old son. We’re happy with our family as it is and don’t plan to have any more children, though we have discussed becoming foster parents some day.
By the time I do become a grandfather, if I become a grandfather, I’m going to be the old grandpa. The grandpa that has lots of wrinkle and shares his Werther’s Originals with you while he teaches you to play chess. So, yes, I know I’m a bit old to be a father. But I’m very glad I waited.
There are some definite benefits to becoming a father after 40, at least for me. For one, I feel like I’m much more patient with my son than I would have been if I became a father in my 20s – or even my 30s – like so many of my family and friends did. I’ve had time to work on my emotional health, and while I still won’t even try to claim perfection, he’s been a great impetus to continue my personal growth and self improvement.
Nicole and I are also better positioned to provide for our sons than I would have been 20 years ago. There will hopefully be none of the missing out on activities that will enrich his childhood because mom and dad can’t afford them. We’re not wealthy, by any definition of the term. But we can provide for our children. I know that poverty and doing without can build character. It certainly did for me. That can wait until he’s in college and out on his own, though. Hopefully by then we will have instilled him with the character he needs to endure those hardships, and he knows that if things are ever too rough, mom and dad will be there for him, always. I’m sure those are feelings all us parents share, no matter how old we were when our children came into our lives.
I just know I’ll be forever grateful this wonderful little guy is the one who allowed me to finally be called “dad,” even if I’m a little long in the tooth.