5 Ways Fatherhood Has Changed Me

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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.

 

 

 

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The First Two Rules Of Fatherhood

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Shortly after my daughter was born, a former student of mine sent me a link to a site titled 50 Rules For Dads Of Daughters.  While I cannot perform almost all of the rules since my daughter is only 7 months old to date, I did take to heart two of them.

The number one rule is to love her mom.  The author suggests, “Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection.”  Truly, this is every man’s wish for his daughter and so it is also my wish for my daughter.  And this isn’t just a human wish, it is also God’s desire that every single one of his adopted daughter be loved, honored, and respected for she has been loved into existence.  But this love many times will involve sacrifice and a vow of death to self in order that it can grow and thrive.  Thus far, I’ve been a father for a little over a year (yes, I’m counting her months in the womb), and I can truly say that what I’ve witness what my wife sacrifices out of love for Madison is truly remarkable!  So the sacrifices I must make to love my wife as a husband and father is nothing more than a little contribution to the fulfillment of my vocation as husband and father.  And why else make these sacrifices if not for the reason that she is a loving bride, an outstanding mother, a generous friend, and a beautiful beautiful woman and daughter of God!  I’m reminded here of that wise Chesterton’s saying:

Marriage is a sort of poetical see-saw.

The second rule is to always be there.  The author’s description is, “Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her.”

I have been hanging out with my daughter every chance I get  since the moment she was born with the two main distractions, i.e. TV and laptop, turned off.  My wanting to be with her isn’t about the fear that one day she will turn out to not like me for not being there for her; instead, I want to be with her and to do the silly things that make her smile simply because I want to do them and because I enjoy our time together.  The time we spend together is both mundane, and somehow very sacred.  Amid the clanging and banging of her plastic toys and her favorite teddy bear singing the usual children lullabies, there is a kind of spiritual connection established between a father and daughter that seems to slowly grow every time I’m in her presence.

So on this Father’s Day, I vow to continue to love my wife as God intends for me to love her, and to spend as much quality time with my daughter as I could since it is in my vocation as a father to do so.  I now leave you with a quote from the brilliant Fulton Sheen:

True love always imposes restrictions on itself–for the sake of others–whether it be the saint who detaches himself from the world in order to more readily adhere to Christ, or the husband who detaches himself from former acquaintances to belong more readily to the spouse of his choice.

To My Wife

On the occasion of our first anniversary as a married couple, I would like to dedicate this composition to my beloved wife:

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O, but the beauty of angels and roses cannot compare
to that of my lady, my wife, my lover, so fair!
And all joy of any first morning of springs
must concede to that joy to me she brings.

O, wonderful woman in whom all love resides,
how lucky I am that you’ve become my bride.
Late that one afternoon, after our vows were exchanged,
To this day, your love for me remains unchanged.

O, how blessed my soul must be
to have received that marriage decree
ordained by Him who knew us from before
and Whose Wisdom guided this ship to shore.

O, you my lady, my wife, my sweet!
Only with you is my life complete.
For unto my happiness you hold the keys
And to our lives bring harmonies.

O, Seraphims, let us borrow your hymns;
along with yours, you Cherubims,
To thank our God for our marriage blessed
and, upon this union His peace did rest.