I always thought fatherhood would come easy to me. I grew up surrounded by young kids (my mom ran a home daycare), I studied psychology with hopes of becoming a child therapist, I worked for a parenting magazine in my 20s, and then I became an elementary school teacher. Right up to the moment our son was born, I thought “I got this!” – boy was I wrong!
No amount of preparation can get you ready to be a father. I remember feeling completely transformed the moment I became a dad. Those first few seconds when I held my newborn son on my chest are engraved in my soul. His wiggly body against mine as he adjusted to the air and light of this world… while both my husband and I adjusted to this new sense of immeasurable love for him, and for each other.
Each year that followed was filled with unforgettable firsts. Many were joyful – first baths, first cuddles, and first giggles. Many were challenging – first explosive poops, sleepless nights, and fussy feedings. And some were downright frightening– first fever, first surgery, and those long nights of inconsolable crying.
Fast forward to our present life where most days I feel like I’m on autopilot. Through the tornado of parenting two kids under 5, I seem to recall flickers of trips to the school bus stop, soccer lessons, swimming, and cooking meals together. When I part the sea of ever-growing laundry baskets, grocery bills, to-do lists, and toys, I somehow make the time for basic hygiene, a part-time job, an overdue haircut, and my first new pair of sneakers in over two years. My “good intentions” list of journaling, making photo albums, and learning to play guitar for the kids are now distant, dream-like, faded ideals.
Fatherhood done right is hard work. Like all parents, there are days I feel like a complete failure and I just want to hit that snooze button on life or crawl under that pile of Lego bricks to disappear for an hour (or ten). But there are also days I feel like a super hero, able to juggle an insurmountable number of fire-lit clubs at once. We all need to remind ourselves that while kids are the ultimate energy drain, they are also the ones that will recharge your battery. Being present, making the time to play with them, laugh with them, and be silly with them is the ultimate “dadding” dose we all need.
Happy Father’s Day!
As appeared in the June 2018 issue of Mom & Caregiver Magazine
Frank Emanuele DCL Director