On becoming a father

*I occasionally share thoughts or experiences from my journey on becoming a father/dad/parent in hopes that it may help others considering this adventure or already on their way. 

Since my daughter was born, the question I get most from people (friends, strangers at the store, family) is “how does it feel to be a father?” The response you are supposed to give is “I love it.” I am not sure if most people want to hear about your struggles or fears or those moments you wonder why you decided to become a father. Thankfully, I do love being Rue’s father. I might even be a little bit obsessed.

I think that parenting is extremely difficult but being a father is an incredible gift. Parenting equals loss of independence, logistics nightmares, nasty diapers, lack of sleep, anxiety over every cough and runny nose, frustration with sleep regression, budgeting for diapers/formula/clothes/car seats/strollers/and a billion other things, more stops on road trips, less romantic vacations, worries about school/friends/future/everything. Fathering is an identity. It is relationship, connection, and legacy.

The truth is being a parent has been extremely difficult. I cried every day for a month. I moaned about the loss of…well nearly everything that was before Rue was born. But what is even more true is that I love being Rue’s father.

I was thrilled to find out that our baby was in fact a girl. Why? It is lame, but I figured that gave her a better chance of being a highly verbal child/person. If I am excited about anything, it is about developing a deep relationship with Rue. Talking. Listening. Talking. Listening. Whenever and for as long as she needs. All the words. All the feelings. Every time. No questions asked.

If I am honest, I didn’t put a lot of thought into birth plans, registries, or how the nursery should look. I didn’t have a vision for being a father before Micole and I got pregnant. Yet, once that journey began then vision for fathering awoke within me. I have been dreaming about developing a relationship with her.

Prior to her birth, I wrote down my vision for fathering. I am sure it will change but this is the foundation I am committed to operate from.

1.     I am a husband before I am a father.

2.     Provider does not equal or earn relationship.

3.     I will show love in multiple ways, not just the way I am most comfortable.  

4.     I will listen but I will also be verbal.

5.     I am engaged, interested, and invested.

6.     I am her safe place but I will not limit her exploration. The world is open to her.

7.     I invite her into my life. She will know me.

8.     I enter her world, where she is.

9.     I will help her discover her voice, her identity, and her path rather than my preferences for her.

10.  I will live my best story as I know this will inspire her to do the same.

Rue has changed me. She brought forth an identity that I did not know was within me. Parenting is hard, but I am excited to grow as a father. Eventually she will lock me out of her room, tell me “no”, and break my heart a few times. I will sign up for that challenge. Every day. For the rest of my life.