It’s the third weekend of June, and I’ve been asked, “What’s the best gift you’ve received for Father’s Day?”
I, for some reason, did not approach this question with anything of materialistic nature in mind, but rather what change fatherhood has brought upon my life.
During the ten months my wife was still pregnant with my first child, I was still unsure about embarking into a such unfamiliar territory. Sure, I’ve heard all the stories about the physical, mental, and emotional rollercoaster that one would expect being a first-time father. It was in the first few days when my first-born was ushered into this world, that the reality of those stories began to set in. Every time he was in my arms, I reflected on so many principles that I’ve held in high regard and realize that many of those held little value in the face of this new life.
Fast forward 10 years today, both my wife and I, are now parents of two. How we live our lives now, isn’t as different as I had first imagined. However, I’ve noticed that I gain a great deal of tolerance towards managing tension, stress, and exhaustion. Even so, I find that I fall short of what my standards of an ideal parent should be. So before I drone on any further, here are 3 quick notes of what I think I could do better:
Their interests first, always. Personally, this goes beyond just quitting bad habits like smoking or drinking or even regular night out with friends those came with the territory of being a dad. When my eldest son developed his ability of speech and could formulate his thoughts with reason. I find myself constantly in the difficult position of saying NO to him (and to myself) for his own good. For example, as an avid football fan the World Cup was not to be miss, sure I wouldn’t hang out at the pub or a local hangout with friends to watch a game in the wee hours of the morning but surely watching from home shouldn’t be a problem!
Oh boy! I did not realize how wrong I was. It was only 2 games in to the group stages that my then 8-year-old caught me waking up at 2AM to watch the game. He insisted to watch it with me, and sensing a father-son bonding moment to share with him a game I love so much. I failed to say no. Naturally, my wife was not pleased but I rationalized that it was only once every 5 years and that this was one of those moments that I would probably miss when he turns 18. 2 weeks went on and I received a call from school and his teacher wanted to highlight that my son spent most of his time falling asleep during classes and sleeping during recess. In polite terms, I knew I messed up. So I decided to pass on watching the live matches to get him back to his regular sleeping hours; And that was a lesson on it’s own.
Which brings me to:
Doing the “Mom” stuff. Maybe in today’s day and age the stereotypical gender roles of the past has mostly been overcome. Nonetheless I’ve felt that it is always good to be actively reminded that there are no “Mom” chores, only chores. I believe that chores such as bathing, feeding, laundry, getting kids to sleep etc. are opportunities to bond and to show kids that we are in fact a team and perhaps later on in life how a marriage should work. Gone are the days when I grew up watching my dad kick back and relax while my mom scrambles to cook, clean, feed, bath and put us to sleep the moment she reached home from her day job.
Inherently leading to my final and perhaps most important note:
Stand by mom and be good to her. I’ve never felt comfortable contradicting my wife in front of the kids. It felt odd to me as if we as parents were saying that they (the kids) could get away with this with mom and get away with that with dad. So even if we disagreed on things would discuss about it when the kids weren’t around. Needless to say, as a father and a husband I sincerely believe that it is crucial to be good to my wife regardless of the presence of my children. As the old adage goes “Happy Wife, Happy Life”.
Wrapping this up, I would just like to add on that we all grow, at different paces. Personally, parenthood has propelled my personal growth with brutal acceleration. I was overwhelmed with various experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, just to stay afloat, just to stay sane. It has made me realise that I could be much stronger than I thought I could. And this, is what I consider to be the greatest gift that I have received for Father’s Day, every year. Fatherhood has taught me a lot, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. As cliché, it really is the gift that keeps on giving.
With that, I extend my kudos to all parents around the world who are working hard and making sacrifices for their children in the purest form of altruism. And last but certainly not least, to my wife who has made this almost unbearable responsibility of manning up, a lot easier by exampling the very best definition of grace and courage.
A Dad who’s still growing up