The Ultimate Gift All Dads Can Appreciate This Father’s Day
My Story of Becoming a Dad and Looking Up to My Own Father
5 and-a-half years ago, the greatest blessing I’ve ever received suddenly came into my life at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. For as long as I live, there will likely never be an experience as vivid, gripping and powerful as when I saw my son for the first time. I wanted to be a father, and by the grace of God, my son gave me that opportunity.
When I hear the word, “Dad,” I still think first to my own father. I think about the remarkable, loving model he has provided for me and my two brothers. I’ve learned so much from him about how to be a loving and caring parent. It’s crazy, but even still, when I hear people call me a, “parent,” it takes a second or two to register with me.
Am I really someone’s Dad? It’s an exhilarating and renewing feeling.
No matter how much you prepare, you’re never really ready to handle every part of the management of another human being’s life; particularly one that is completely dependent on you for survival. And yet, you realize in that moment that it’s not all about you.
It’s about trusting in a higher power, as well as your partner (spouse or other parent) and those with whom you entrust the care of your child.
The Gifts of Parenthood
Being a father has strengthened my faith and brought a previously unimaginable amount of love into my life. My wife often tells me how overly affectionate I am with my sons. I think to myself: How could I not be?!
I concern myself with providing for their needs, showing them all the love I can give and providing an environment where they can learn, be themselves and live with joy.
Becoming a parent has made me think less selfishly and more selflessly. I still, however, have to focus on my needs. In order to take care of my son, I need to make sure that I am well and able. I still get tired, sick and angry. Negative emotions seem harder to grapple with when you’re operating on less sleep and increased anxiety.
I try each day to improve at this big ole game called life. I work earnestly to maximize all of my personal and professional time, in order to become the man I’ve always wanted to be. Those things don’t stop or end once you become a Dad. If you start to ignore your needs altogether, you’re making a critical mistake.
We should be working to constantly improve ourselves while serving as the architect that designs a structure of growth and love for our children.
As an author and coach, I know how much emotional intelligence factors in to putting the needs of our children first. We have to empathize and understand them to love them with all of our heart and to expect nothing in return.
For at least the first several months of your child’s life, what you will get are some very messy diapers, vomit, and the pleasure of waking up at 3AM. But you’ll also experience love and joy, perhaps like you’ve never experienced.
Love & Fear
Right before my son was born, a very good friend of mine told me about the difficulty of losing sleep and waking up in the middle of the night to tend to his son. My biggest fear in becoming a parent centered around literally one thing: losing sleep. I’m a horrible, woeful wreck of a human being when I don’t get at least seven hours of sleep.
While I knew I wasn’t completely ready to be a parent, I had enough faith and belief in God — and my wife — that we could do the job and care for our sons’ needs. Somehow, despite my fears of losing sleep, I came to crave the time that they’d wake up at 2:30, and I needed to hold them and rock them back to sleep.
I felt remarkable moments of peace and love that could never be described in words. I realized how grateful I was in those moments to have a beautiful, healthy child. Just looking at him was enough to melt my heart and give me true appreciation for the meaning of life.
From time to time, during the midst of rush hour traffic, while getting my sons ready for daycare or as I put him to sleep in the evening, I think about what it must have felt like for my parents to be Mom and Dad for their three children. I value the relationship that I have with my parents — as well as with my wife, son and brothers — above anything else in this world.
The Gift of Parents
I’ve learned to treasure each moment that I have with them in person, over the phone or FaceTime. I still look up to my parents and come to them constantly for guidance and love. They have instilled values in me that I pour into the work I do and relationships I aim to build each day. Those values come out in my writing and in the “Why” and definition of success that I have for my life.
They’ll always be Mom and Dad to me. And yet once my son arrived, I realized I needed to carry the torch from them, with each passing day, into being the parent to my son that they have been to me. I have the best of both worlds — a rich, rewarding relationship with my parents, and a journey to provide my son with all the love and care that I can.
The extraordinarily sad truth is that someday, my mother and father will leave this world. Those days are two that I look forward to least. I know how crushing they will be. I continue to observe their actions and think of how they raised me.
I pass these on to my sons and hope they will grow to be men who put others first, love with all his heart, and give everything toward making the world a better place.
Each day is truly an adventure and one where my boys seem to say a new word, become more self-aware and more affectionate toward me. I want to be there for all the growth, the good times and bad — because there will be bad days! — and to be the rock of support for them that my Mom and Dad have been for me.
I’m a Dad, and I’ve learned how powerful the gift of love is; not just to receive but to give to someone else. I try my hardest every day to show my son the same love my parents have shown me. I’m Dad now. Or should I say, from the angelic lips of a 2.5 year old, “Da-da.”