Fatherhood is…

From time to time I will use this blog to divert away from the serious to the more personal aspects of life. I have been thinking a great deal lately about what it means to be a father. Recently, I embarked upon quite the life change, shifting my career path from one that relied heavily upon frequent, weekly travel to one of infrequent travel and far more nights spent at home. With some sense of regret for what I have missed the last 3 or so years, I am figuring out more clearly and with more thought of what it means to do daily life with four brilliant and wonderful children and their remarkable and indefatigable mother. Not that I was not a present father before, it was simply that I would regularly miss 2-3 nights per week of their lives, which inevitably means a lot of missed milestones. The job change has allowed me to be more fully engaged and to have the time to actually think about what fatherhood has meant to me. I am sure many fathers and mothers can relate to my little list here. The list will evolve as my children grow and get older, but with four children under the age of 10, my list reflects the “spirit of the current age.”

Fatherhood is…

Crying uncontrollably at each of their births and not being one bit ashamed about it in the presence of complete strangers

Being tremendously grateful, in an admittedly awful selfish way, that it the mother that bears the burden of birthing

Glancing over in complete exasperation at your spouse when it seems as if your own little version of Armageddon is happening around you and you both break down in despairing laughter

Having 1,000 tiny aggravations and paper cuts as a result of constant needs, fussing, fighting, arguing, talking, asking, and constant motion instantly heal the second a cute little red-headed girl sits in your lap and asks you to read a book to her before bed

Possessing secret admiration at your child’s reasoning and argumentation skills, even if you also want to yell from the rooftop, “Shut your sassy mouth already!”

Longing for the day that your children grow into more self-sufficiency

Dreading with every fiber of your being your children growing into self-sufficiency

Missing your sweet and little innocent baby-faced child while she says, “Daaaaad… seriously?” with hands on hips and head cocked to one side

Praying, hoping, and doing everything you possibly can to give your children a better childhood than you had

Realizing that the most dreadful thing in all of this world is saying or doing something that you immediately regret and that hurts your child

Dealing with the constant nagging pressure on how to give your children better opportunities, which to many a parent can mean putting more effort into work in the pursuit of more financial opportunities for your children

Realizing that what a child values most of all is your attention and affection, not your production

Having the somewhat scary realization that even if you succeed in giving your children every opportunity that you can possibly afford them within the confines of an abundantly loving home, they still have their own minds and they are their own people: they will make their own decisions and life choices, for better or worse

Scoping out at an early age who might make a great pre-arranged marriage for your children

Realizing that kissing all over your little boy is effortless and not as hard to do as you might have thought before having a son

Wishing that of above all, the traits and virtues that you hope your children obtain is grit, tenacity, perseverance, and gumption

Harboring secret pride when your little girl smokes the little boy in a race to the soccer ball

Coming to the physically painful realization that in a father/daughter wrestling match, that the old adage that, “girls don’t fight fair” is remarkably true

Having to sheepishly explain why you were staring at your daughter when she catches you staring while she tries to read a book silently to herself

Learning that fathers can make the world’s best pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches

Understanding that your children are most at peace when there is peace between the mother and father

Constantly trying to find the line between being an overly protective parent and letting them learn from their own or others’ bad choices

The above becomes particularly tough when you are dealing with the mistakes and brutishness of other people that impact your child –  do you turn on protective instincts or do you passively let your child learn how to adapt to and navigate in a world where awful people will always exist and whom they need to learn how to deal with?

Having the strange feeling that bedtime routines are analogous to being the CEO of a company negotiating with a tough Union threatening to strike with the subtle hints that they will resort to violence if needed

Having to remind yourself to give of your time and attention to your best friend, the woman that birthed your children, so as not to forget why you fell in love with her and how you are in this together

Alas, I could go on and on, but I would love to hear from my friends…what did I miss? What is parenthood to you?

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