I’m spending yet another year away from my family for Father’s Day because of obligations so I’ve taken a moment today to reflect about what drastic changes I’ve undergone since becoming a father.
1. I’ve become much more grateful
It’s not like I wasn’t a grateful man before becoming a dad, but something definitely changed with my thankful attitude since I’ve taken on the role as father. I can still recall the first crying noises that Madison made after being born and how those tiny noises brought me to tears. I remember when she first laughed, I thought it was the coolest thing and I tried so desperate all the time to get her to laugh, but I failed probably 95% of the time. All these moments are priceless-ly treasured in my heart and I’m forever grateful to God for His gift to us. But I’m not just more thankful for my daughter, I am thankful for my wife; for the patience that she practiced in carrying our child in her womb, for her understanding of my busy schedule during certain months of the year, and for her continued love for me–a love that is so simple and unconditional. Fatherhood has definitely showed me that the simpler and smaller things and moments in life are to be valued and cherished as much as those that are greater and more profound.
2. I’ve become more patient with repetitions and children activities
Teaching high school played an important role in forming my patience for the youth, but fatherhood has almost brought the virtue to near perfection…well, not quite near perfection, but it’s up there somewhere. My daughter, like all other children, loves to play and she, like other children, loves to have a thing repeated a zillion times before moving on to another thing, only to have that new thing repeated another zillion times. For instance, I’ve listened to Let It Go countless times–literally countless because the number of times probably approaches infinity. And yet, because the joy I see in her eyes and in her smile, my patience grows, not out of necessity, but out of love. Here, I’m reminded of a Chesterton quote:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
And as #1 suggests, I’m also thankful that my 1.5 years old daughter could show me there is much to be grateful for in these repetitive acts.
3. I know better and am more willing to suffer for my loved ones
Beginning with the first nights with Madison as a new born, when sleep was understood only as a fantastic concept like that of unicorn and Santa Claus, to the sleepless nights spent with her when she became ill, to taking care to make foods that aren’t extremely spicy so she could eat it, to changing super soiled diapers that one simply cannot believe came from a human being, much less a baby. From beginning to thus far, I’ve learned that those things that cause my wife and me to be inconvenienced or suffer are those things that benefit our beloved daughter. I knew love required suffering, and fatherhood taught me what that looks like and how valuable it is that parents need realize this.
4. I’ve learned how to love my wife better
It’s a strange thing to say because it sounds like I wasn’t a good husband since I didn’t know how to love my wife correctly, and that’s precisely what I mean. In the course of learning how to be a father, I also learned how to be in solidarity with my wife as we parent our child and, in doing so, I learned to listen (not with just my ears) to her needs and desires and to her joys and sorrows. And by listening, I learned how to better love my wife.
5. I’m a better pray-er
One very astonishing thing that I noticed from my daughter is her complete dependence on us as parents and her candidness. Madison is completely dependent on us to get things for her, especially when it comes to food or changing her diaper. She’s also not shy about coming to either one of us to take our hand and lead us to something that she wants or something that she wants to do. And she does this countless times a day. As I reflected on this awhile back, I realize that my utter dependency on God is like Madison’s utter dependency on me. And yet, she goes to me and asks for whatever she wants, and I may say no, but she never gets in trouble for asking. Then, I asked myself, why do I not go more often to God for things or just to chat? Madison has taught me that I’m utterly dependent on God and that I should go to Him more often.