What is a perfect father anyway?

I HAVE always been fascinated with the word “perfect.”

My fascination centers on my inability to find a suitable exact opposite for the word perfect. It is one of the rare adjectives that doesn’t have one. Bright has dark. Good has evil. Quiet has loud. Perfect? None. Imperfect? Flawed? Not quite.

Take a perfect circle, for example. Warp any small part of its diameter. Already, it is flawed. But is it the exact opposite of perfection? Imagine a face perfect in its beauty. Add a blemish or two. Imperfect. But would the blemished face stand as the exact opposite of its perfect state? No. On the end of the spectrum opposite perfect lies perfectly imperfect.

Fascinating right? That the only opposite for perfect is some sort of grotesque form of perfection.

When I put up this blog, as a means to cope with my inadequacies as a father to a precious little girl, I never meant my judgment of myself was based on an idea of perfection. I do not know what makes a perfect father. Count the number of fathers in this world. That would probably approximate the number of definitions you’d get if you ask the question: “What is a perfect father anyway?”

In the same, more realistic, vein, if you’d ask how many flawed fathers there are, you’d get the same number of answers. In the eyes of children all over their world, a father is both a perfect and flawed figure.

It’s just that I have the inescapable feeling that I am a little bit more flawed than the rest. At night, I still keep asking myself if I am up to the task of raising a kid. When I look at Isay’s eyes, the trust that bursts from her round, black pupils tugs at my heart. This little kid has nothing but two adults to guide her through the first stage of her life journey. Every morning, when I take her for a walk in the playground for her daily dose of early sunshine, I realize that I literally have her life in my hands.

I’m glad my wife is some sort of a supermom. She sleeps at midnight, sometimes past, wakes up twice or so to nurse Isay, before waking up one final time at around 4:30 a.m. to prepare for work. Just before she leaves, she nurses Isay one more time. She gets back home at around 7 p.m., nurses Isay, sterilizes bottles, sings Isay songs or reads her stories, nurses her again, takes a shower and then nurses our baby one more time before hitting the sack.

I’m pretty sure one day she’ll find time to wax the family car and rotate its wheels.

This is what she looks like without her superhero mask.
This is what she looks like without her superhero mask.

Me? I go through her list of to-do’s and try to tick them off one daddy duty at a time. Without that list, I’m absolutely fucking clueless. A lab rat can figure out those cheese mazes before I can get through one bath time. It’s scary to be this clueless when you know that a life depends on you. And greasing the learning curve is quite difficult when it comes to raising a kid. I mean, it’s not like you can rely on trial and error after all.

Still, there is an overflowing sense of eagerness on my part to master this fatherhood task. I am not aiming for perfection. I cannot even define a perfect father, unless “a mom with a penis” counts. But I do not want to settle for getting by either. There is a sweet spot in the perfection spectrum that I want to hit. It’s the spot where I end up using all my collected flaws and use them to guide Isay one imperfect step at a time.


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