The prehistoric days of Dad’s coming home from work to drink martinis and read the paper are gone. Long gone. I remember TV shows where the Dad barely looked up from his lounge chair as the children said good night. These mythological beings only spoke to scold or reprimand these small creatures who did nothing more than devour the family fortune. Well I got news for you. These mythological beings are dead. Now is the dawn of a new day. The dawn of the “kind dad”. The false ideology of discipline and toughness has been completely disproven by little things like research and studies. There is zero evidence that yelling, beating or bullying a child creates a long term benefit to the adult version of that child. Truth is, kids are sort of like puppies. You can yell at them all you want but they dont actually understand what is happening.
Hannah Love was born shortly after my twenty eighth birthday. Being a Dad is like being an astronaut. We can all sit around the TV and watch a man walk on the moon but until you actually leave the Earth’s atmosphere you have no idea what it really means to fly above the stars. I was an Uncle at fourteen years old. I always enjoyed being around babies or toddlers but I did not have the slightest clue what it meant to be a dad 24/7. I have been a dad for nine years now. A father of two kids for seven years. I have had plenty of days where I had to apologize to my children for the way I treated them. I have yelled, screamed and spanked. I have grounded, scolded and pinched. I have pulled over my car, canceled parties and taken away their favorite toys. One time I found myself alone with a screaming infant, not knowing what to do to help her, so I simply screamed right back at her. I have ridden the roller coaster of fatherhood through all the curves and spins. After almost a decade of trial and error I would like to humbly offer three simple things that have made me a kinder, more loving father.
- I Don’t Own Them
My children are NOT my possession. I did not buy them at the market. These two little creatures are simply mine to steward. It’s one of those ideas that seems so obvious and yet it requires an almost constant reminder. It is very easy to start to view my children as “mine”. If they are “mine” then I control them. I am also one hundred percent accountable for their behavior. It warps the reality of freedom. The truth is, these are human adults in the making. They are free beings created by God to be free. I can not control them anymore than I can control you. I can try. I can fight, kick and scream to get them to bow down to my will but even that is an illusion. The reality of their freedom even when they are little allows me to maintain perspective in the midst of frustrations. I do my best to take a deep breath and remember that one day these little ones turn into bigger ones and those bigger ones will be able to choose to have me in their life or not. I can do my best to love them. I can work hard to train them. In the end though, they are people that get to make their own choices so I might as well treat them accordingly.
2. This Is A Privilege Not An Inconvenience
I don’t get to watch the shows I want to, when I want to. I can’t listen to the music I like. I don’t have time to hang out with my friends or go to happy hour on Sunset Blvd. It is rare that I even go to sleep without someone, needing something from somebody. My life is not my own. My time has become theirs. But who am I to complain about losing something that was never really mine to begin with. When I was single I used to believe that my time was so important. The second that little baby cried in the middle of the night I realized that my time was no longer “my” time. I was now on the clock every second of the day. If they needed medicine I went to the pharmacy. If we were low on diapers I was in the car headed to the store. There was no such thing as “mine”. I cannot tell you how many times I complained about all of the inconveniences. Then one day in the midst of a nostalgic walk down memory lane I took a moment to reflect on my life before my family. Gym, work, party and sleep. In perpetuity. I wasn’t “living life to the fullest”. I was doing nothing of real substance. My family has given me so much purpose and identity. They have made me an actual man instead of a boy in a grown up costume. I am forever in their debt. I am so grateful for these years where I get to love them, help them and be an intrical part of their everyday life. It is an honor to know these three amazing beings. I would wipe a thousand butts if that’s what it took. Serving my family in any capacity is the greatest privilege of my life.
3. One Day This Will End
I looked in my newborn daughters eyes and was instantly transported to that fateful day I put her hand into another man’s. I didn’t even have to try. As soon as I had a moment alone with her the thought overtook me. It was like a stopwatch started ticking in my heart from that moment on. The tick tock of the inevitable, beating in the back of my mind to keep me conscious of how temporal this all was. Every dirty diaper or sleepless night was one step closer to the end. I learned to treasure every moment. I read a little slower. I say yes more often. I make time to play tag or throw the football. Any parent of young children can tell you about the countless times people reminded them to enjoy these fleeting years. Strangers on the streets will say, “You’re kids are so beautiful. Enjoy this time it goes by so fast”. It’s just a cold hard fact. One day they will move on. So why not live every moment like it is a gift and cherish it. After all…it is
Take me to church!
Ok y’all it’s that time again. It is almost impossible for me to talk about being a daddy without talking about God so grab your hankie because we’re going to church!
In the end these babies are His not mine. They were His plan. His idea. He allowed me the privilege of partnering with Him to raise these amazing people. But just like everything God does it has so many layers to it. On one hand being a Dad has given me a vast appreciation for my own parents. On the other hand it has also given me a profound understanding of what it really means to be a son. I have learned more about the love of God these past nine years of fatherhood than all the other years combined. I can look at my kids and grasp what it means to love unconditionally. If God loves me as much as I love them than it is totally logical that He would go through all of the trouble of saving me. He loves me. Of course He does. I’m His baby. Zion and Hannah are also His babies. We are all apart of a wonderful family with loving parents at the helm. I am so grateful for this journey of fatherhood. I hope one day when Marquita and I are old and gray we can look back at this time as one the most amazing seasons in our lives. Thank you Marquita. Thank you Hannah and Zion. Thank you Jesus. #fatherforlife