This past weekend I celebrated my fifth Father’s Day. It’s still hard to believe that I am a father. Parenting is truly the hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and it brings out the best and worst of me. Here are five things I’ve learned so far on this parenting adventure.
It all goes by so quickly.
I know it’s a cliché thing to say that times flies. I never really liked hearing it growing up because it felt like everything was going so slowly. Four years of high school, followed by 5 years of college and two degrees seemed like an eternity. Seeing forty years of my working life ahead of me was a lot to take in. Now, after more than a decade working full-time, it feels like it’s all gone by in a flash.
I am not really sure what the rush to get out of high school and college and into retirement was all about. Now, I am 37, and some days I feel old, like I am arguing with time and trying to slow it down.
I recently listened to an interview of Jesse Itzler on Impact Theory that really hit this point home for me. Jesse, who is a co-founder of Marquis Jet, a partner in Zico Coconut Water, the founder of The 100 Mile Group, and an owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, talks about how if your parents are 70 years old and you see them on average twice a year and they live to 78, that you don’t have 8 more years with your parents; you only have 16 more times. It’s a fundamental shift in the way that Jesse looks at situations. He has determined that his enemy is the clock and tries to live his life with urgency and not put important time with his family off for later.
Kids need us to be present.
It is easy for me to be distracted by my to-do list and phone when I am with my family. Often times, I will be checking a “quick” email or browsing social media and have Anna tell me that my daughter is looking at me. I hate to have her memories of me constantly being on my phone while she was growing up.
When I get home from work, the kids are always usually excited to see me. Jude usually bombards me with questions about my day and also recaps his day. Adelaide will come yelling and screaming with a big smile on her face, and as soon as I make eye contact with her, she will giggle and run back toward Anna.
My kids love spending time with Anna and me. It doesn’t matter if we go to the park, the grocery store, or hang out at home; they just want us to be around because we make them feel safe and secure.
I can fix anything (with tape), according to Jude.
Jude loves to be active. He can usually be seen with his wooden hammer, measuring tape, and an occasional screwdriver, “fixing things” around the house.
On many occasions, Jude will break a crayon, tear paper, or hammer a tiny hole in the wall with his wooden hammer and whatever he can find as a makeshift nail. Soon after one of these events have happened, he will ask me to fix it. Although it is frustrating for me when he has broken something and wants it fixed in a hurry or has put another hole in the wall, it is nice to know that he thinks I can fix anything.
The embarrassing thing is when he tells other people that “my daddy can fix it”. Most people know that my handyman skills are limited to tightening screws and changing light bulbs, but for those who don’t know, it has started some conversations with people that assume I am a lot handier than I really am.
I can’t ignore the things I hate to do.
Having kids is like jumping off a cliff and and building your wings on the way down. Our first child was a shock to the system. Anna and I thought that we would never sleep again and our world suddenly changed once Jude was born. We planned and thought we were ready for our first child but we were thrown off by our lack of a routine for the first couple of months.
Don’t get me wrong; I love my kids and wouldn’t have it any other way. I just wasn’t mentally prepared to face all the things that I hate to do like changing a blowout or cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night.
When one of my kids is sick, I’ve had to overcome my uneasiness with vomit and blowouts and tend to their needs. I once heard that “Maturity is not by age, but the acceptance of your responsibilities.” This is so true; once you become a parent, it isn’t just about you or your spouse anymore. You are tasked with a new set of responsibilities and your success is based on your willingness to carry out those varied tasks to the best of your abilities.
A great wife makes parenting easier.
Anna is a powerhouse. She can pretty much do it all in my eyes. She works, cooks, cleans, and takes great care of our family.
Anna and I are on the same page when it comes to raising our kids. It’s nice to know that we are a united front, heading in the same direction. To me, this makes all the difference in the world. I am just happy she agreed to marry me, and I look forward to raising our kids together.
Finally, I would like to thank my own father for everything he has done for me. It wasn’t until I became a father that I started to see the sacrifices and difficult decisions that my parents made for me and my brothers.
My father, like Anna, has a big heart for his family and his faith. I am happy God choose him to be my father and I hope to pass on the same faith and values to my kids.
What lessons have you learned being a father, or what’s the best parenting advice you’ve received? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.