The other day, someone at work asked me, “What’s it like to be a father?” and that got me thinking. He’s about 6 months away from joining the club so I think he was looking for a little sage-like advice. To be honest, I think he was happy to find out I lost my hair many years before having kids. We chatted for a few minutes about what he can expect and how it’s ok to be nervous. It fact, if you’re not nervous about becoming a parent, I would think there’s something wrong. I didn’t really prepare too much for fatherhood until I was knee-deep in diapers. I mean, I took the course with my wife, was supportive, painted the room, but you can’t really be ready ‘til that little doppelgänger is looking you square in the face. Once you change that first diaper, game on.
I said something to him that I heard a few years ago. It was…”be a good father, not just a good provider.” The first time I heard that was back in high school and it stuck with me for years. I didn’t know when I was going to be a dad but that simple phrase made a lot of sense to me. Ya know what they say, anybody can MAKE a kid but it takes a real man/woman to RAISE them. Although, to be honest, in high school, I didn’t get a lot of chances to “make a kid”, know what I’m saying?
While doling out advice to my co-worker, I explained how I’ve been a dad for 5 years to two boys and I’m still figuring it out as I go. I think for many guys (myself included) we think a dad’s job is to work to put food on the table, and repair stuff around the house. Of course those are a given, but there is so much to it. I was, and still am, very fortunate to have a great dad who was there on both levels – physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case for everybody. As I said, I was lucky to have a great role model. If I can be half the man and father he is, I’ll be well on my way.
Another line that stuck from the high school days was something my dad said to me when my mum passed. We were in the car and he said (and I’m paraphrasing), all that mattered in his life was that he loved my mum and loved my brother and I. It is so simple yet so beautiful. Now many years later, I’m lucky enough to have a wife and 2 kids that I love and adore. As long as I have them, I’ll be okay.
I finished up by telling my nervous dad-to-be co-worker that being a dad is the best thing that’s happened in my life; there is nothing that even comes close. I try to take in every moment with the kids, from hearing their little footsteps run towards me when I get home from work, to high fives on the playground. Which by the way, to any soon-to-be fathers out there, the playground will only lead to a visit to the ER, not the kid’s, they’ll be fine, I’m talking about you. It’s been years since I’ve been to the park, so my first visit with Travis landed me in the hospital; I nearly tore my rotator cuff and lost an adenoid.
On a personal note: Happy Father’s Day to my dad Barry; you are single handily the biggest most important influence in my life. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for me.
To all the other dads out there, I hope you have a great father’s day. I hope it’s full of family, golf, BBQ, cold beer, naps or whatever the perfect day is for you.
Happy Father’s Day