It’s been 5 – almost 6 weeks – since Aria has joined the family and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how much our lives have changed in such a short amount of time. It’s not a bad thing – it’s an amazing thing. I try and spend most of my time with Aria when I get home from work and when I wake up on the weekends. If I’m not at home, I spend most of my time thinking about her or looking at her pictures over and over again in-between work and breaks. She consumes me in a way that I want to ask for so much more than that which is physically and emotionally impossible – that’s the kind of love you learn and crave – different than the love you have for your girlfriend, wife, parents, or siblings.
Being a Dad is still weird to say for me. I’m sure it’s weird for everyone to go through this stage because you know your past, your faults, and your flaws – you know everything you have done wrong and all the time you’ve spent trying to find redemption in things. At the end of the day, you also know everything you’ve done right, all the successes that have brought you here and all the good intentions you have.
Being a Dad means letting down all your emotional barriers. It’s becoming stronger than your past self and standing strong for everything that she faces. She might not know it yet – hell, you might not even know it yet – but you’re her superhero and dawning that cape is the best job you’ll ever have. You’re going to fight the monsters that scare her and hold her hand through any fire she will come across.
For the last 9 months of Diana being pregnant, the only things we’d hear people say is to “enjoy your sleep while you can!”, or “you better sell that car of yours and get a minivan!”, and “no more hanging out with the guys after this!”.
Those were my favourite. They were my favourite because I had to stop myself from asking “Is that why people have kids?” – to get rid of the things they enjoy? To put a halt to their hobbies? Because they decided they don’t want to sleep anymore? It’s true though – you get no mercy during some nights and when you know you have to get up at 6AM to go to work, the only thing you want is 20 minutes of extra sleep. I’ll tell you one thing though – I would sacrifice my sleep over and over again just to watch her get her own sleep. If there is one thing I could wish for, it’s to be able to stay awake forever to watch her because for every second I’m not watching her, she’s growing up and I’m missing it.
While my car is no longer my priority, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop tinkering with it. Parents can have fun too, can’t they? For every parent that feels like they have to give up something they once poured their heart into – I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you had to give a piece of yourself up. I’m sorry that I don’t want to, I’m sorry that my wife doesn’t want me to, and I’m sorry that I can’t wait to share my love for cars with my daughter. I don’t necessarily want her to love cars the same way I do, but I do want her to know what it’s like to love some thing. I want her to know passion and commitment, and care, and every thing she loves can show her.
Life is a balancing act and my daughter certainly tips the scales in her favour 10 times out of 10, but there will be times where she will let you tip the scale your way and you have to take it. You have to feel like you can take a little after giving so much – not just to keep yourself sane but to show her that you need to take too – and when she finally understands that life is about giving and taking, you hope that selflessness begins to grow in her.
Hanging out with the “guys” is not a thing of the past. It’s just infrequent and I’m OK with that. The “guys” are OK with that. I want her to grow up knowing what friendships are, I want her meet the guys and play with them. I want her to know that there are people other than “Mom” and “Dad” that can provide great experiences too
I want her to spend her years piecing together what love is – to define it herself and to find it and not settle. A Dad wants her daughter to feel like a princess and to never be treated less than that. I want her to find her prince and know that there is such a thing as a knight in shining armour and that there is such a thing as clowns in disguise. That there are far more clowns than actual knights, and that there is a someone out there that will appreciate every bit of her. Nobody is perfect, but she will have a definition of perfect and that’s what we want her to find. Being a Dad means showing her that fairy tales do exist. I want her to know that Mommy and Daddy lived one, and when she finally finds it, to never let go – there are such things as happily ever afters.
Experience allows children to grow because it is tough and merciless. It is nurturing and meaningful. It is allowed to be wrong and right, and it can decide whether it wants to teach you now or 100 tries later. Isn’t this what it means to be a parent? To provide experience the opportunity to run my daughter through her paces and get those scratched up knees and make those tears turn into hard-earned smiles? To show her that success is forged from sweat and tears and a little blood, and no matter what the experience is like – it always teaches respect.
The first few weeks of being a parent can really show you what you’re made of. It can show you what you and your wife are made of as a whole, it can and will test every ounce of patience, love, and teamwork your body and mind can muster… And if that’s not enough, it will show you how hard it is to imagine how much you can love something so small. How many times can your heart explode into a million pieces each time she smiles or how many times it can break when she cries.
The best thing about it all is you start to find a different kind of love in your wife that you have never seen before. You’d think after over 14+ years of knowing someone, you’d know everything… Being a Dad teaches you more about your other half than you could ever imagine. You start to delight in things you never thought you cared about before, like when you hear her endlessly sing words that don’t make sense and wonder how she comes up with those fire lyrics. How referring to her as Mommy is a lot cuter than you thought it’d be and you’ll never call her by her real name again. When she takes the bull by the horns and accepts that changing poopy diapers is a better job for her than you.
You wonder how a woman that you’ve been through thick and thin with can still do the amazing things she does day in and day out for our daughter. Things I couldn’t do. Things I can’t imagine doing. When she’s up every 2 hours feeding a hungry baby, half asleep in the chair while I’m still asleep. When she is stuck upstairs at a party tending to her while I’m downstairs having fun. You realize very quickly that when you think you’re super Dad… Super Mom is actually more impressive and that cape you dawn is really hers – she just chooses not to wear it.
And while it doesn’t matter who wears that cape, at the end of the day your daughter doesn’t care either. She just wants you to be there to hold her hand through the dark and scary world, to let her fall sometimes, and show her how to forge her tears into smiles. That’s what being a Dad is like.
And when you go through all of that, you deserve to take selfies once in a while – even if she doesn’t like it.