By Henry Amador-Batten
I am a 52-year-old stay at home father to an extremely active and energetic four-year old.
There are times throughout the course of a typical day where I just don’t know how I’ll make it to his bedtime.
Sadly I have to admit that my bedtime is never too far behind and yet I just can’t imagine doing or being anything other than his dad right now.
We are also hoping to bring another child into our life this year so that will mean that I will be a full-time 53-year-old daddy of two small children.
I know, I know, what the heck are we thinking right?
Five years ago I was fully committed to my career. My husband and I ran a succesful business together and our plan was to rock it out for another 10 years or so and then enjoy an early retirement.
We hoped to by an apartment in my family’s home town in Spain and continue to indulge our passion for travel and adventure but then our lives took a quick turn and everything changed, we became parents.
I’ve been thinking lately about aging. So much so that I recently did a quick poll on a gay parenting page I run.
I asked a lot of dads how old they were when they had their most recent child.
The highest percentage of dads were from 30-40 years old but a very, very close second were the dads in their 40’s to 50’s followed by those in their 20’s and finally those 50 and up.
That tells me that with all the changes in marriage equality, the flood gates to gays adopting, fostering or using surrogates to become fathers has been opened wide.
It also begs the question:
What will older gay men’s lived experiences look like as time goes by?
Now obviously I want to be in my children’s lives forever but that’s simply not realistic.
I will be approximately 66 years old when our boy graduates from highschool.
I don’t even want to begin to think about college or his marrying one day or even becoming a father himself if that’s what his cards hold.
I do however want to make the years count and give him the best of me that I can.
That’s where some of the perks of being an older dad come in.
1. I’m me now.
I know who I am and (basically) why I’m here. That allows me a sense of freedom and clarity to be present for my son in a way that I could have never been when I was younger. I’ve learned what matters to me and I no longer spend too much time nor energy climbing up someone elses hill. When my eyes open in the morning I am prepared to experience my son and our time together in a most loving and authentic way.
2. I am patient.
Not only with my boy but more importantly with myself. I know that if I feel like I messed it up today I have the opportunity to correct it tomorrow. Patience allows me to slow things down to where I can observe whats happening rather than react to it. Patience helps me to remember that it truly is the journey that matters and that there is nothing more important than those I am journeying with.
3. I am wiser.
I’ve learned that no one really learns from someone else’s mistakes, they only learn from their own. So many younger dads want to be sure that their children don’t make the same ones they did. With the exemption of not allowing my son to get in harm’s way, I will let his life unfold on his terms. This is his story, not mine. The younger me would not have fully comprehended nor embraced that idea.
4. I’m open.
My heart is open, my mind is open and I allow each second of my life to bring with it what it may. I know that my son will teach me as much as I do him. There’s a saying that goes if you’re not green and growing than your ripe and rotting. Having children later in life reminds me that staying green is the key to living. The younger me would have let his ego keep him from being that kind of dad.
Universe willing I’ll live to be 100 or so and see my kids grow into the fine humans I pray they will be.
Hopefully I’ll get a first dance or two at a wedding and I’ll live to hold a grandchild’s hand.
But if today is it, if it ends right now, I have to say that what I have been able to give my boy because of who I am today and what I have been able to receive from my son because of who I am today is all that this dad could have ever dreamt for.
That younger me would have never, ever been able to say that.