Yesterday, as I was on the couch watching television with my son, I looked at him and the oddest thought went through my head. I sat their looking at him, thinking, “Holy crap! I’m his DAD.” I repeated it in my head a few more times. “I’m this kid’s dad.” For some reason, I was having a difficult time wrapping my head around it.
After twelve years of being a father, I still look at my kids and am floored by the simple concept that, “I’m the dad.” I’m that guy. I’m the one they’ll talk about through college and when they’re on their own. When they’re talking to their grandchildren, I’m going to be the “dad” they talk about. Out of nowhere it hit me like a brick and suddenly, this thought became remarkably difficult for
me to comprehend.
For the most part I would consider myself a fairly involved father and am confident that most who know me, including my ex-wife, would agree. I did a 2 am feeding or two. My first child spent many hours with me at the office during her first year. Even had her own pack n’ play there. I’ve been the soccer coach. We’ve traveled together a lot. I’ve taken a million pictures, videos, etc. Done my best to be there as much as I could. And yet, it’s taken twelve years for the idea of being a father to start to sink in. How is that possible?
I’m having discussions with my eldest that are becoming more “life philosophies.” You know the ones. The talks that are more about the type of person they want to be when they grow up. I think such discussions smack you in the face with, “Well buddy, what kind of person do YOU want to be when you grow up?” And then it hits you. You’re the grown up. You’re the guy they’re going to look to as the reference point.
As dads we screw up a lot. Both as fathers and as human beings in general. We make mistakes and have to hold ourselves accountable for those errors in judgement. We do the best we can and base our decisions and our approaches on decades worth of research living our own lives. Still, we’re far from perfect. But I think the very idea of being “dad” should, if nothing else, force us to become increasingly introspective as to the type of person we are beyond just being the dad. By that, I mean, we should take this amazing opportunity to grow as individuals and ask ourselves, “what kind of person do we want to be when we grow up.” Because it’s impossible to ask a twelve-year-old what type of person they want to be when they grow up and then help them get there, if we aren’t asking ourselves the same question and working to get their as well.
I’m looking up at pictures of my kids that are hanging up in my office. It still amazes me to think that these are my kids. That I’m the guy who’s been entrusted with the task of being their father. And I love the fact that it continues to blow my mind even after all this time.