Father and Son

Being a dad is a beautiful and awesome thing. Sometimes, it’s the best thing in the world, while at other times it seems like you’re the worst person in the world. Fatherhood is fun and terrifying; sweet and sometimes sour. Here are ten facts about being a dad that I’ve figured out along the way.

10) You will make breakfast!

Many dads go into parenthood thinking that things won’t change too much. They feel good about the situation and are ready to enjoy all the fun that comes with being a dad without really putting much in. I’m here to tell you that if you want to be a good dad, you will make breakfast. For the first couple years of my son’s life I don’t think that I cooked – at all. Not at home anyway. I was a prep-cook during most of that time and making desserts was basically the name of the game. I did okay at work, but I wasn’t about to go home and cook some more!

What I didn’t know then was that cooking for my family would become a very rewarding experience to me. I’m no chef by any means, but a basic breakfast isn’t hard to make! It has now become a three-to-four day a week tradition, and it is a lot of fun. My menu is pretty short though. I’ll make turkey bacon, eggs, toast, French toast, pancakes, oatmeal (delicious!), scrambled egg sandwiches, eggs-in-a-basket, eggs, eggs, and more eggs; and bacon.

Now that might sound like it gets old, but you come up with creative ways to make breakfast after you’ve done it enough times.

And not only does it make me feel good, my son enjoys watching me cook and it takes some of the stress off of my wonderful wife who does more than enough for us as it is.

9) Outdoors!

If you aren’t really a fan of the outdoors, you had better become one. My wife and I have always loved the outdoors and that has helped since our son’s first steps.

Taking my son on a hike through the beautiful Arizona Mountains tops my list of fun things to do. It is healthy for your body, mind and spirit to get outside in the sunshine. I’ve spent more time at parks and playgrounds in the last couple of years than I have in all the years of my life combined up until now, and I love it.

To top it off, children are so curious that there is an uncountable number of “teachable-moments” that are available once you begin to take them out into the world. I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t want to hear any more “what”, “who”, “when”, “why” or “how” questions, and I will eventually ask my son to stop asking questions, but for the most part it is enjoyable to watch my son learn and try to make sense of the world around him.

8) You know more than you think you do.

And if you don’t, you’ll learn. I actually didn’t know how much knowledge I had about the little stuff until my son started asking questions. Even more amazing is what I’ve learned! There was a time in which I would have laughed if someone were to tell me that a toddler would teach me, but I would have been wrong to do so.

There is not a lot that I wouldn’t do in order to teach him about life and the values that I hold dear. I’ve realized that I had certain notions in my head that didn’t really have a foundation, because of my son’s questions, and have learned and grown in ways that I wouldn’t have without him.

My son, as quick-witted and silly as he is, has taught me some pretty valuable life lessons along the way. I don’t know if it is that way for everyone because my son was born to my wife and I eleven months after we got married; we were eighteen. Growing up while trying to take care of a child is no easy task, but by God’s grace we’ve done it and are infinitely stronger in our relationship because of it.

7) You’re a hero.

If you do it right, fatherhood will turn you into your kids’ hero. All of that little stuff that you do each and every day, coupled with the big stuff of course, forms an image of you in the minds of your children. This image is what they will see when you’re not with them, and that image will either be of a hero, a mediocre dad, or a bad one. I want my son to see me as a hero, both when I’m home and when I’m away.

The early years most generally make you a hero automatically because you are so much stronger and bigger than your kids and you give them all that they need. But as they grow, it is no longer your size or strength that helps to uphold that heroic image of you in their heads, it is you character.

Every time you tell them you love them, and even more so each time you show them how much you love them, as well as every time you are available for them and of course every time you ignore them or punish them will shape how they think of you. Do it right! Be there when they call, love them when they are hurting and say yes more than you say no. Focus on your family and you will be a hero to both your children and to your wife. What more could a man want?

6) You will learn to clean up your language!

Trust me, the first time you hear one of your kids say s***, you will rethink your vocabulary. I can remember a time in the check-out line at a grocery store, when my son was just over a year old. I don’t know why, but that word was so clear that it made all of his other words sound less intelligible! A one-year-old child generally does not have a lot of words that he or she can say, and so when you hear a new word it can be exciting! Watching your children grow is beautiful, but at times like this it is also embarrassing.

My face was red as he let slip an adorable giggle after his first curse word. I’m thankful that the person behind us in line was a parent too and so understood, because I hate to think that someone may have thought I was a bad dad for letting my son talk that way.

In any case, I’ve learned to watch my language a little more, and of course have heard my son repeat those words at times when I forget to keep from saying them. It’s no fun hearing it, but I’m getting better!

5) You’ll get less sleep.

Once you have kid(s) then you will most definitely be cutting back on those precious sleeping hours. Children are needy and selfish. But they are also helpless, and it is up to you to keep them alive until they can take care of themselves.

Those lost hours of sleep will be made up for though, with love, smiles and happiness. I know how that sounds, but it’s true! Being there for your kids is more important than anything else you could do, and they will return the favor in the ways that they know how to: by being cute kids!

I didn’t drink much coffee until after my son was born, but now it’s pretty much an everyday thing. And while we’re on the subject of sleep, I cannot think of too many things that are cooler than being woken up by a smiling, happy child.

4) I hope you like cartoons!

I had the advantage of already enjoying a good cartoon before my son came into the world, and so it’s no big deal to me to watch cartoons and animated movies with my wife and son. If fact, we love to do it!

I think that it actually helps, I mean aside from being able to spend more time with my family. Enjoying cartoons makes it easier on me to be able to pick what is good to watch for his age and what isn’t. There are definitely some cartoon shows and movies that are not allowed for him, but the ones that we do allow him to watch are enjoyable by all of us and so it enhances the experience of watching them.

3) Goodbye, Benjamin.

That’s right, babies are expensive. You’ve got wipes, diapers, baby gate(s), child locks, safe toys, educational toys, clothes, shoes, child-care, food, baby-maintenance and the list goes on. The average cost of raising one child is more than $241,000! For some people that is just pocket change, but for the majority of us, that’s a lot of money!

But it’s absolutely worth it and more. There is no monetary value that I could place on my son, nor would I ever. But nonetheless, you will make a huge monetary sacrifice to be a dad and that’s okay! Budgeting is a good tool to allow you and your family to still be able to have fun with less money.

2) Alone time? Hah!

With work, sleep, exercise and family time, there is not going to be very much alone time for you. If you do get some alone time, I’d urge you to just relax. Even if it’s for thirty minutes, that time is valuable and a thirty minute rest can do wonders!

In between the above things you’ll have to fit in date nights (and more!) with your wife, time to spend with your children individually like reading to them or other father/children activities, showering and helping your wife with the house. Even if she works and you are a stay at home dad, either way fitting these things in can be ridiculously difficult.

My only alone time comes when I’m in the exercising or when I’m in the shower, but that’s okay. I enjoy that time but not as much as the time I spend with my wife and son.

1) Hello, self.

Amongst all the chaos, down deep in the bottom of that pan of spaghetti sauce, or maybe in the grass stains on your jeans, you find yourself.

Whatever your dreams and aspirations were before, they begin to pale in comparison to what is before you. I have dreams of being a police officer, and am in fact very close to achieving my goal, but even I was never able to do that I would be okay. I would be okay because I have the opportunity to mold a life, to teach my son and help him grow into the great man that I know he will be someday.

I know that there was a time when men were more disassociated with their children and left the raising of them up to the wife, but that is not me. My wife is an absolutely adorable person and is a better mom and wife than I ever could have asked or hoped for, but my son needs a dad who is there and has a hand in the learning process, and that’s me.

I’ll never leave him and I’ll never treat him as if I do not love him, because I love him more than my life. Fathers are lacking in this country today, and a very large number of criminals and suicides are linked back to fatherlessness. That will not be my son, I promise.