While the last couple months or so have been full of wonderful events and happy memories, there is something that is bothering me. I have found that it has always helped to write about things when they bug me, so I am going to just throw a few thoughts out there to get them off my chest (in a round about way).
I’ve been able to really shut a lot of this out of my mind. I have been good about staying focused on the things that I can control and ignoring (in a sense) the things that I cannot control. I have put the negatives away (as much as possible) and tried to enjoy the positives. Every now and then, something happens and things “bubble over” and can make you break down. That happened today.
I was hurt today. Ok, I’ve been hurt quite a few times in the past few months. Let me say, that’s ok. I get it. I understand why and the catalyst behind it. I understand the way things are twisted and turned to make things seem like something they are not. Today, all the stuff just kind of hit me.
Today, as I held my one year old daughter before work. I looked into her eyes as she sat on my lap. She smiled as I put my hat on her head. She giggled as I sat with her. In that moment, I was reminded that this beautiful little girl has an unlimited amount of unconditional love for her daddy. I am perfect in her sight. I make her laugh. I am silly. I will be there to hold her when she hurts herself. I’m her hero. I’m her daddy and she loves me unconditionally.
As she grows, and there are rules to follow and disagreements, I know dad might make her angry. I hope that she will understand that those things are there to keep her safe and because I love her. I pray that she will never ever get to the point where she doesn’t want to see me or not be a part of my life anymore. That is a pain that is unbearable. It hurts terribly.
I don’t even know how to mend that fence. It’s kind of like the Biblical story of the prodigal son. I guess I just continue to love them and hope that one day the “prodigal sons” will return. One thing is for sure, my unconditional love for my children will never cease.
One of the hardest jobs in the world is being a parent, I’ll be the first to admit that. I will also say, though, that while it is a difficult job, it is also one of the most amazing things a man can do! As I look at my two sons, I consider myself blessed. Being a father is one of the most satisfying, frustrating, fulfilling, and life-affirming things I have ever done! I have been a dad for almost 18 years, and as I thought about my boys, I began to make a list of the things I love about being a dad. I thought I would share that list with you. Perhaps you can add to it or relate to mine.
Things I Love About Being a Dad
Your kids think you know it all.
If I had a dollar for every time my kids have asked me a question about something…LOL. Many times, you know the answer, but sometimes, they ask you something that throws you for a loop! They truly believe you are the smartest person alive!
One of my favorite memories of my dad and I was playing catch in front of our house. I remember the first time he threw his “submarine” pitch to me and how much my hand stung when it hit the mitt! Throwing the ball around with my sons is something I will never get tired of doing!
Coaching – Sports.
I was lucky enough to coach both of my sons in T-ball and baseball. I truly wish they had both continued to play ball, but as they grew older, they lost interest. I also helped the coaches out when my oldest son was on the bowling team in middle school. I loved watching them play soccer and taking them to the driving range to hit golf balls, too. I only got to really go fishing with them a couple times, but I hope that it happens more in the years ahead.
Throwing them around in the pool.
We lived at one place that had a huge pool. One of the thing I never got tired of was picking the boys up and tossing them back into the water in the summer. I also loved letting them push me in the pool, thinking they had surprised me, when all along I was waiting for them to do it. My oldest is as big as me now, and he still wants me to throw him around! Pool fun is always great as a dad!
Your kids think you are the strongest person!
I remember arm wrestling with my dad and being amazed at how strong he was. I remember “helping” my dad move things and struggling with my end of it because it was so heavy. Dad wasn’t phased at all, though. As kids, we are always amazed at how strong dad is!
Rocking and singing them to sleep.
Whether it is at the beginning of the night or in the middle of the night, I never grew tired of rocking my kids to sleep. Holding them with their head on my shoulder and singing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra songs is forever etched in my memory! The songs changed from son to son, but some remained the same. I used to sing “Bouna Sera,” “On An Evening in Roma,” “Watching the World Go By,” “Vieni Su,” “Cruising Down the River,” and other songs. I used to love when they would sing them to me, too!
You become aware of your bad habits.
My dad used to smoke. He used to say, “Don’t ever let me catch you doing this!” He eventually quit cold turkey, whether or not it was because of my brother and I, I don’t know. I do know that you are extra cautious about doing things or saying things you don’t want your kids repeating. My dad always tells the story of driving while I was in the car seat behind him Someone cut him off and he yelled, “You stupid prick!” and I said, “What did those pricks do, daddy?!” “Sticks – there were sticks in the road!” was his response. HA!
Play time and using your imagination.
I remember my dad coming into the bedroom and pretending to be a bear while my brother and I were under the covers. I remember him pretending to be a wrestler and bouncing us on the mattress. I remember pretending that way with my sons, too. I remember playing superheroes with towels tied around our necks for capes! So much fun!!!
This gets more fun as they get older. My dad did it to me. I do it with my kids. Just recently, we were walking down the street to go to the city fair. On the walk I started skipping and both kids were like, “Dad! Stop it!” This one car was playing some song with a really loud bass, so I started dancing. Again, “Stop it!” When the petting zoo came into view I screamed, “Oooo! Look at the baby goats” and started running toward them. They were so embarrassed! It’s what dads do!!
Introducing them to things from your childhood.
For me, dad introduced me to a lot of music and such. For my sons, I shared movies and music, but thanks to technology, I was able to share with them the Atari 2600! They had some retro Atari that was loaded with 200 games or something one Christmas. My oldest loved it. He was always playing Maze Craze! We used to hit the thrift shops and I would love when there was some old toy from my childhood there! Of course, I passed down the Three Stooges to them! I also introduced them to the Classic Scooby Doo cartoons, Hong Kong Phooey, and the Muppets.
True and unconditional love.
It’s a mutual thing. I have never felt such an unconditional love for someone or from someone, until I became a dad. Holding each of my boys for the first time, you melt! The love just gushes out from you. It is an amazing thing.
Hearing “I love you” from them.
This kind of goes with the above item. As if you can’t love them any more, the minute they tell you “I love you” is just an amazing, emotional, and wonderful thing that you will never forget. I still have voicemails from both boys as toddlers on my phone. I need to find a way to get them into an MP3 or something. I never want to lose those!
There were a few years I worked nights and missed out on taking them out trick or treating. I was able to be at all of their Halloween parades at school. I loved being able to help pick out costumes with them. Pulling them around the neighborhood as babies was something very fun.
As parents, we all do this. Especially when they are babies. I wish I could remember all the things I said to my kids, I don’t. I know there were gibberish phrases that I used for each boy, though. I used to love saying them to make them smile.
Making them laugh.
My kids were always my best audience. “Do it again, Daddy!” There is nothing like making your child laugh. Their laughter is like music! Even as they grow up, I still love listening to them laugh. They may not laugh at it everything like they used to, but that’s ok. It’s still fun to make them laugh.
It’s a bit different now that they are older, and have the potential of kicking my butt! I love when they want to rough house! I remember my mom yelling at my dad, “Stop that rough housing!” Why?! It was fun for all of us!
Adulting sucks. Sometimes, you just have to be silly! Being a dad allows you to be silly. Silly is good. Sometimes, you have to break away from the serious and embrace the silly!
Letting them win.
Oh how many games of cribbage did my dad let me win?! With Uno, he wasn’t so nice. I think he used to love putting down that Draw 4 card – much like I do with my kids today! Sure, I have let them win occasionally, and there is some satisfaction in watching him and his brother brag about how they beat dad at the game. Every once in awhile, though, you gotta show them you can beat them at it too!
“Caving” at the store.
I don’t do this as much now, but I used to. You know how it is – you go to the store and there is that “can we get this?” or “I need this!” All too often, I would cave and buy whatever it was. Now that they are older, they understand a bit more when you tell them you don’t have the money to buy that right now. they younger they are, the easier it is for dads to cave!
Getting beat at video games.
I love spending time with my boys. They love their video games. They have this one called Super Smash Brothers. I really don’t understand it, but the gist is that you are a character (there are many) and you beat each other up until someone wins. They kept asking me to play, so I did. They wiped the floor with me. Both of them were laughing as they beat the snot out of my character. I was just pushing buttons trying to make it hit or whatever. All of a sudden, my character started to light up and did this crazy punch/kick thing! My youngest said, “Dad, you figured out how to use the special!” There was some special move – every character has one! They just neglected to tell me about it and let me lose! LOL! Smart boys!! I don’t care whether I win or not, I just enjoy the time with them.
Carrying them on my shoulders
I remember as a kid, loving when my dad carried me on his shoulders. I used to hold on to his hair! My boys did the same thing! I would give anything to be able to carry my sons again on my shoulders. I used to love walking through the store with them up there. I loved taking walks in the park with them up there. I wish I had more pictures of them up there.
I have always been a hugger. I love hugging my kids. I miss the days of snuggling up next to them for a nap. I miss holding them while we watch TV. I remember many times trying to get up from the couch, trying not to wake them because they fell asleep. Those moments are so special for a dad. I love when they come up and hug me for no reason. It is still an amazing thing.
“Pull my finger”
This is probably the one thing that is exclusive to dads. Not many moms do this! Farts, dads, and kids mean laughs. It’s probably such a huge annoyance for moms. Dads fart. Kids laugh at farts. I remember one time my friend and I were outside in the front yard playing with Matchbox cars. Dad came home from work and as he was walking in the house he made the “finger gun” with his hand and “shot” it as he farted. We still laugh about that! The fart will always be a funny thing that dads and kids both laugh at together.
Looking at your relationship with your kids and being able to connect it to memories you shared with your dad.
Go back and read how many times I mention something I love about doing with my sons, and how many times I can connect them with something my dad and I shared!
The “bond” that is eternal.
There will never be anything that can come between me and my kids. I love my sons with all that I am. They are my flesh and blood and will forever be my little boys.
The firsts and lasts
Those firsts stay with you forever. The first steps. The first words. The first day of school. The first concert. Both of my sons are still in school, but if social media is an indicator, the last day of school is just as emotional as the first! Watching each of my sons get on the bus for the first time was very emotional for me. Big days – big emotions.
Back when I had an office at work, I used to have countless drawings that they did in school. I used to have a macaroni bee that my oldest son made. The noodles eventually broke on it. I still have some paintings they did and the coffee mug coasters that each boy made me for Father’s Day in kindergarten or first grade. Those little things hold special meaning for me.
It starts as you reading to them. I don’t know how many times I read “Goodnight Moon” or “I’m Thankful Each Day” to my sons, but I enjoyed it every time. I am sure there were other books, too. “Snowmen at Night” was a favorite, too. I used to love when they would read to me! I wish the video games weren’t so accessible, because I really wish they would find more time to read. I loved when they would tell me about a story of book they read in school.
The emotions that they make me feel.
They make me proud. They make me happy. They make me cry (both happy and sad tears). They make me worry. They make me thankful. They make me feel a never ending love for each of them. I am not ashamed to admit how emotional I have gotten watching them in a play, a band concert, a baseball game, or during an awards ceremony. God help me, when they graduate, get married, and have children – I can barely hold it together now!!
I am sure if I had a few more minutes, I could add many more items to this list. Being a dad is the greatest thing I have ever had to do. My sons have been tremendous blessings to me and fill my heart with joy and laughter. I love them so much. If and when I am blessed with another child, I will look forward to reliving some of the things mentioned and creating new memories with that child, because being a dad is one of the coolest, most special, and fulfilling things I have ever done, or will ever do in my lifetime.