Sunday’s Wisdom #239: A Father’s Simple Devotion

“You are the love of my life. Everything I have, and everything I am, is yours. Forever.”
– Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
Season 9, Episode 23-24, “Last Forever”

I consider it one of life’s great, humorous ironies that I found such a perfect quote for Father’s Day from 1) a character that is such a notorious womanizer, and 2) in a show that seems to have very little of such touching material, but I don’t really know because 3) I haven’t actually seen it. Thank you, YouTube.

From what I know, Barney spends the majority of the show as an unrepentant, and hilarious, womanizer. He’s had a serious relationship or two, but failed at both of them. Still, he tried to do better, be better, have a happier life in that way, so perhaps he was just finally ready when the call of fatherhood came to him. Certainly, he didn’t seem ready beforehand, but when he holds his daughter in his arms for the first time, moments after her birth… well, that sort of thing changes a man. Mind you, it only does so if he’s ready for it.

One thing about Barney seems to be how he devotes himself utterly to whatever he sets his mind to. I can only speak from clips on YouTube, but he absolutely put the whole of his energy into things like getting revenge or scoring with sexy women, and though his marriage fell apart, he was perfectly faithful to his wife, which, for such a shameless former player, speaks to his resolve to leave that life behind. So, when he becomes a father, he does so with his entire being, leaving that raucous lifestyle behind him forevermore.

These words, which he says to his daughter the first time he holds her, are the sound of him pivoting his life like a great door on the hinge of his love for her. It is the grand summary of what it means to be a father, truly.

In a word: love. A father is utterly devoted to his children, for devotion is love in action.

To be a father is to love absolutely, and to offer everything one has, large or small, in its entirety.

That includes time, effort, patience, discipline, endless caring, and so much more. It is to give and give and keep on giving.

That is not the same as giving one’s child everything they want. It is to give them what they need, for as long as one is able. That even includes withholding things when one must. Spoiling is less an act of love and more an act of convenience.

And it should here be noted… nobody is perfect, and so nobody is a perfect parent either. But a father promises everything he is in addition to everything he has. He does his best, withholding nothing of himself, even and most especially when he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, which tends to be quite often.

Perfection cannot be achieved, and it is not required to be a good father. One simply needs to be willing, and put that willingness into action as best he can, reserving nothing for himself so long as his children stand in need of it.

That is fatherhood.

I am thankful for a father who has never stopped being a father. That is tragically more than many can say.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

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