Baby Girl
Baby, Family, Fatherhood, Parenthood, Parenting

On Fatherhood

Even after over four months, it’s still difficult to wrap my head around. The fact that I’ve created a tiny human being and now have to guide her through this life, make sure she has everything she ever needs, and place her in the best position to flourish – mentally, spiritually, physically, in every possible way. At times, it seems unconquerable.

I often think back on all of those articles we read, all of those classes we attended, and all of those questions we asked while Mackenzie was still brewing. All silliness. Not a single thing in this world can prepare you for becoming a parent for the first time. Nothing.

When you have a child, you lose a part of yourself. Video games now mean absolutely nothing to me. A weekend is just a two-day period when I don’t have to be equally engrossed in my career. Any romantic endeavors need to take place before we pass out at 9 or before the kid wakes up at 5 (and forget foreplay if she’s teething). The concept of ‘myself’ is no longer relevant, and while I welcome such a reality with open arms, I now see why there are so many terrible parents in the world. Having a child needs to be an act of pure selflessness.

And that form of selflessness is far different than the kind implied within a marriage. In a marriage, you compromise (in a good marriage, anyway). In parenthood, you sacrifice – pure and simple.

The obvious punchline here is that you could lose different parts of yourself fifteen times over, and one smile from your child makes you feel like a complete moron for even feeling like you ever lost anything at all. I’m cut into ribbons with every laugh and milestone. She keeps me speechless.

So, I carry on with my newest gig. Attempting (failing) to curse less. Appreciating the smallest and simplest of things. Learning to ignore sleep. Preparing to intimidate her first boyfriend. Embracing the little moments that I never want to end. Loving the whole damn thing.

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103 thoughts on “On Fatherhood

  1. I loved every single sentence of this. Parenthood is the hardest and most marvelous thing I’ve ever taken on too, and even though I’m just a couple months shy of two years in this gig, I have already learned lifetimes of how to love and just deny myself. It’s beautiful.

    Congrats on your well-deserved Freshly Pressed!

  2. Hang on for a helluva ride my friend, complete with no days off no vacation time & nothing short of rewarding empowerment. As a parent of a teen it gets… Interesting.

    Keep in mind that the concept of being a perfect parent is a fallacy, but the concept of perfect love is not!

  3. I find it absolutely ironic, that the picture at the top of the page, has the word WARNING in it, because children should most definitely come with a warning label! Life is never the same, and I share every single one of your sentiments above :) awesome post!

  4. There’s no greater gift, Than fatherhood. It’s not just a chance for us to learn about them but children also teach us the lesson of reflection and understanding through their innocent eyes. Great post :)

  5. The trying not to swear part is tricky, isn’t it? I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum and have done really well, I think. They learn early in school that one is not supposed to say the word “stupid”; I’ve tried to teach her that it’s an okay word to use as long as you’re not saying it meanly to another’s face, that many things and many actions are stupid. A few weeks ago I reeled off about 9 “stupid”s in a row (the printer, the thing I swear at the most), and my daughter, now 9, said “I’m HERE you know” (so don’t say “stupid” in front of me).

    • Yeah, I’m from Philly (and so I generally don’t trust people who refuse to curse), so I have failed miserably at this so far. I just pray that her first word is not my fault. :)

  6. Your letter brought to mind my own Daddy has said as he recanted over the years of how he felt upon my birth..I’m his first born of two..He said when he first held me in the hospital he was DRUNK with joy! Though he’d not had a sip of liquor..Fathers are so important to little girls who grow UP to be women..And every relationship they have with a man, for their entire lives, will be impacted by that bond/relationship with their Fathers..That is why my Daddy’s words of his first glimpse of me; still ring in my ears after all these years..Enjoy your little girl, they DO grow up so very quickly! Write ON

  7. Great post! You’re absolutely right about one thing – you can hear from all your friends with children the horrors and triumphs a child brings to your life, read all of the books about what to expect from the moment your baby is suddenly in your arms and it’s not until then and not a moment before that, when you have taken them home and have begun to get to know this little person you that begin to realise the challenges and rewards of bringing another human being into this world to teach and guide. You’re not eased into it either, it’s like BAM! Here’s a helpless baby, good luck with that!

    Being a parent teaches you more about yourself than you could ever have learned without a child, and they teach you too. It truly is a wonderful thing :)

  8. While i do agree that parenthood is something one can never be fully prepared for, and takes a great deal of sacrifice, i’m stuck pondering something that you said that doesn’t quite settle right. You said When you have a child,” you lose a part of yourself. ” I wonder why so many people feel this way. I am a new mom (of a beautiful little 3 month old girl) and i feel the opposite. Nothing of my self is missing. In fact, i feel that i am actually MORE than i ever could be. Yes things are different now, My husband and I don’t go out to the pub on Saturday nights any more, but that certainly doesn’t mean i have lost ANYTHING of MYSELF.(I also don’t think what you do defines you either, whether it be video games or going out at night but thats a whole different spiel) I wish sometimes people would see children as less of a sacrifice and more like a blessing and a way to learn and grow who they are. Never stop growing as a human being, especially when you have a young mind hanging on every word ;)

    • Obviously I see my child as the highest of blessings, and I couldn’t be happier. That’s not a point of debate.

      But – from the perspective of a very new parent – there are things that have gone the way of the dinosaur (and have done so incredibly quickly) that were significant parts of my life. Just because I have a child doesn’t mean that I look back and wonder why I found anything other than my child to be a significant part of my life.

      Relationships with my best friends since 2nd grade have been paused. My wife and I prided our marriage on taking spontaneous day trips and adventures that we cherished. Things like that. If those aren’t elements that made up part of my identity, I’m not sure what would be fair game.

      I’m not saying that having a child is a burden – that’s far, far different than a sacrifice.

  9. I always tell my husband that I never thought I’d be so happy to be someone’s maid, chauffeur, personal chef, and pillow. It’s an amazing one of a kind experience and a true test of sacrifice. I knew I was a goner the day I got popped on and laughed about it. Ah, parenthood.

  10. As I’m fond of telling newbies, being a parent is like joining the mafia. Your children might retire you with a gold watch for faithful service one day but before you can say ‘is that the stork I see’ you will be reinstated for active duty. Parenting mutates into grand parenting and you’re off and running all over again. And if you think you have time to think that one through, I have to tell you, that it was only the other day I held my baby in my arms, now he’s six foot four and cuddling his own babies. :) Lovely post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  11. This is amazing. I am looking forward to the day I too become a father. I feel like the amount of grace and responsibility you earn could only make you a better person. Even when it is tough though, never let your child down. You are doing fine sir :)

  12. My Muted Voice says:

    So beautiful and so true! My husband and I have had a similar conversation with each other about the sacrifice and selflessness and just when you think you might lose it, you see that smile, hear that new word, see that new milestone and it’s all washed away. Pure joy. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Yep, and that’s my ultimate point – that little bundle of joy makes any sense of sacrifice or anything else completely vanish. It’s that powerful. But it’s good that you had that conversation and aren’t naive to the reality of sacrifice.

  13. There is a lot to be said about being a father. The worst thing is that any man can be a father. The best thing is that it takes a very special man to be a daddy. Fatherhood for me started way before I had children of my own. Though life has thrown many curve balls at me; I still love my step children and my own like they were all born of my blood.

    There will be trials and tribulations, and fighting with your spouse on what you can and cannot do when that first boyfriend comes knocking. I want to have an M-79 in the house with my daughters name on it just for the intimidation; my wife refuses to allow me that. My 2 daughters and 2 sons have taught me that eyes and ears are always open; even when they are dead asleep. Be prepared for copious amounts of coffee.

  14. Great looking child. Good luck. We raised three and now see our grandchildren grew up. It is one of the great things in life. Remember it is not all roses. But sometimes it is.

  15. THAT. IS. SO. SWEET, ANTHONY! I hope you let your daughter read this when she’s older. She will surely love it and love you more for it. Congratulations on being a Dad!

  16. Glad to know I’m not the only one attempting and failing to curse less. I have two toddlers, and they have both said, “Oh shit!” So I need to up my game.

    Good luck with your baby. It’s worth every bit of sacrifice we make. :)

    • My wife keeps telling me that if she hears the baby utter a single curse word, she’s holding me accountable (fairly so, too). But really – she knows that it would be really cute if she turned to our daughter in her high chair, and she just yelled, “Shit!”. :)

  17. Aunt Michele says:

    Dearest Anthony, what a beautiful tribute this is – to your most beautiful and lovable, and much cherished daughter. You are and will always be so important to your daughter. Anyone who knows you can see how happy you are to be a Daddy. Always keep her close to your heart even when she seems to not want you to be. Your Uncle Anthony and I never decide what or where we eat or where we go on vacation, among a lot of other things. Your three cousins always decide and that’s just how we want it. As long as we are all together that will always be what’s important. I can still see in my mind’s eye running across Packer Avenue in a snowstorm with our first-born held tight to make sure we got to see Barney in time. Love you always.

  18. Beautiful post!!! I am getting married next month and feel anxious about moving to another family and house altogether.. Appreciating each and every moment spent with mom dad and this post just made me feel what my father must have felt when i was born and now when i am about to leave the home in a month..

    Lucky daughter yours :) enjoy the journey!

  19. This is beautiful. I could not agree with you more. Sadly not many people realize just how gifted they become when a child is born. I have three beautiful kids and will always put them above myself or anyone in my life. My kids are the reason for living. Your daughter will love this when she needs that reminder that you love her and always have.

  20. Reblogged this on luvsiesous and commented:
    Friends,

    This is one of the better Freshly Pressed.

    If only more fathers were willing to sacrifice ….

    We would not have 50% of our children growing up fatherless and on government support (Welfare).

    What do you think?

    Wayne
    Luvsiesous.com

  21. saramcknight says:

    Congratulations on becoming a dad!

    The most important advice I can give to anyone with kids; is to be HONEST to them, and let them be honest with you.

    On a side note, when babies are so tiny it feels like this huge responsibility to just basically keep them alive and happy. When they’re teenagers, your responsibility is going to be keeping yourself and your wife alive and happy. Hehe.

  22. They certainly do change our lives. we’ve loved each and every moment of our two girls, and when the third one arrives in may. We will certainly love her just as much. good luck with the journey. you’re right though no matter how much we read or prepare ourselves…its all thrown right out the window!!!

  23. Such a lovely post. Hang on tight and wear your seatbelt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! My two baby girls are now teenagers, and wow, there’s no way to prepare for this rollercoaster! I try to keep a sense of humor, and my blog is my coping mechanism! Thanks for sharing and keep writing.

  24. Reblogged this on CabbageTalk and commented:
    I agree fully. Reading this is like reading a snippet of my own mind. Thank you.

    P.s Nothing prepares you for becoming a parent second time round either. If anything its harder due to having to teach a little person they are still your world, whilst they see you nurturing this tiny bundle that appeared from nowhere.

    #RealParents

  25. I was thinking the same stuff in the beginning also. Now well into his 30′s, Griffin chooses to bring sadness to his mother’s eyes. Our son had every reason to flourish. By keeping is transmission in neutral, Griffin washes dishes at a cafe between and around hits.

    Understand over time his successes are his own, all his own; that way he will not mistake HIS failings to be yours.

  26. Welcome to this fabulous, frustrating adventure called fatherhood. Each age has so much to offer. I wish you continued happiness on your journey. Try to soak up every second you can hold her in your arms–I miss those days a lot.

    Congrats on being pressed.

  27. You’re right – nothing can prepare you to be a parent. Despite the best efforts of OUR parents, we will (and do) learn the lessons the hard way – by fumbling through them. You’ve started on the path that is not pre-ordained – there’s lots of room to improvise, to innovate, to screw up, and to wonder from time to time “I did THAT???” (in a good way, of course) . I write as a Dad to three beautiful young women who have moved on to their own paths and their own stories. And yet, when they come back, they come back “Home” to my wife and me, with their partners and boyfriends, and the circle of life continues.

    I wish you a safe journey on the road you’ve taken. You will learn much about yourself that you haven’t suspected. Your child, if you are prepared to listen, is a masterful teacher, and yet at the same time, everything she will know she will learn from you (and your wife). She will learn your tone of voice, your moods, your approach to handling difficult situations. She will learn to appreciate music and art and the joy of movement through what you show her. She will learn how to take chances, when to be cautious, and when to dance, by observing you. It is quite sobering to realize your little creation is mirroring your behaviour. Even at four months.

    Congratulations again. Don’t forget to write down what you are seeing and feeling. Take lots of pictures. They grow up so fast, and before you know it, they are moving on.

  28. Congratulations. I’ve been a father for just over a decade and I tell you that sense of awe doesn’t go away. You just submit to the stupor as you fumble your way through the act of parenting. These past ten years have been the best years of my life.
    Great post by the way. You nailed it. Enjoy parenthood and if I could offer one word of advice. Have a bunch of kids now because after about 5 years you start to get some of your life back, you have to sacrifice less and sleep more. I waited five years between my second and third and boy did I almost forget what it was like to sacrifice. Not that I’m complaining its just when that stupor his it hits like a brick wall.

  29. I LOVE this! I wish more parents(at least that I know) thought like this. Most of them are still all about getting sitters and getting drunk every weekend. I find it to be so sad. They are missing out on so much and that child deserves so much more. Kudos to you for seeing how much of a treasure your little girl is and knowing that she is worth everything!!!

  30. Sometimes I talk to my pre-parent self who was terrified of children ruining her life and say, “you really don’t know what you’re missing”. Lots of sacrifice. Lots of moments of skipped foreplay. But at some point, you can find a balance of sacrificing for your child and nurturing the passions in your own life. It is not easy. But as they get older, somewhere you find the energy to entertain your past loves and hobbies.

  31. This is so incredibly true! I remember feeling so prepared when I had my first daughter, after having taken the birth classes and read the parenting books, only to realize that all of that is crap and all I could do was follow her lead and forget about anything for myself except on those special days when grandma comes around. And even then those special days were usually filled with sleep until it was time for baby to come home. Even with child no. 2 I felt like I knew what I was doing before she was born and was super ready to do the baby thing again. I wasn’t. Now I understand why they say every baby is different, because it was a whole new ball game when she came around.

  32. “Having a child needs to be an act of pure selflessness.” This is the key to raising kids, at least in the US, to be happy, healthy (mentally), and socially adaptable. I agree that this is why shitty kids are shitty kids – very little attention from mom and dad because they are living their own life and the kids are kind of a pain.

    Keep up the good work.

  33. Congratulations on becoming a father! Children are God’s gifts to us, and are incredibly precious. I wish you the best, and hope you become fully prepared to intimidate her future boyfriends. (;

  34. I’m 58 now & I have to say I envy you ! You’re doing the most important job in the world & if you are a good parent you’ll realize that when your child is 18 or 21 your job is not over. You As long as you live you will be a father, dad even pop pop .You have a child , it’s till you are here no more . Please be a good father? You think it’s hard wait till they hit teens then twenty s.Even when they have their children your still a parent 1 st .!!!

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  42. Absolutely agree! Being a father of a 2-year-old boy now I can say I felt the same in the beginning. And even now I sometimes wonder what a miracle it is – a child, and moreover I wonder how we could live without him before? Seems like there were no times without having him ever.

  43. Reblogged this on Haven of Inspiration and commented:
    These first few years I admit are the hardest. But there will come a time when she will sleep through the night. She will hold her own bottle and spoon. She will learn to keep herself clean with her own washcloth. She will learn to button, unbutton, zip up and zip down, tie her own shows and park them! Those days of freedom for daddy
    will come and your wife will be forever grateful you did not want to escape. Your daughter will be fun to be with and your wife will want more!!! Because you are the best daddy in the world!!!

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