Thursday, August 4, 2011

Early Fatherhood - Lessons Learned

Though I’ve only been a father for about 5 months now, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I feel all new and expectant fathers should know.   5 months, 5 lessons learned:

1.       Babies are adorable, but not at 2 a.m. – When my daughter was born, she was the most beautiful baby in the world.  When she sneezed, it was cute.  We giggled when she tooted.  We went “Awww” when she would cry a little.  During the day, she could do no wrong and brightened everyone’s day.  But then there’s the night.  Not the peaceful 8-9 hour restful nights, but the screeching, ear piercing, screaming nights.  When you’ve had a long day, and finally fall asleep, there is nothing more tiring than hearing the screams through the baby monitor.   And no matter how adorable she was during the day, there was nothing adorable about her that late at night.  So to all the expectant and new parents I would advise you cherish all the happy, daytime moments just a little bit more, because your little angel will more than likely make up for it some nights.

2.       Mothers don’t get enough credit – If you haven’t already read my tribute to single parents, this lesson learned is right along the same lines.  Mothers just can’t get enough credit for the work they do.  As if the labor process wasn’t enough, my wife also seems to know exactly what to do at all times.  When my daughter can’t get settled and I’m getting frustrated, she can morph the screaming beast (and I mean that with all the love possible) back into the adorable princess we know her to be.   I sometimes wonder how I would get through parenthood without her there to support me along the way.

3.       Get used to the mess – Before our daughter arrived, we weren’t the best at keeping the house nice and tidy, but we managed.  After our daughter arrived, things are starting to pile up quicker and stay there longer.  So to all the new parents, get used to the mess.  There just won’t be enough hours in the day to keep the house as clean as you would like.  Yes, we still pick up around the house when we know we’ll have company, but the toys, the mail, the clothes, the dishes…just get used to seeing them around a lot more.  My mom used to hang a sign in her kitchen that read  
“Dull people have immaculate houses.” 
      As a child I didn’t know what that meant.  As a parent without a dull moment to spare, those words ring very true.
4.       Learn a whole new level of patience – You better learn fast that your child will not always be the perfect angel you want them to be, and to think otherwise is silly.  But even knowing that there will be fits and tantrums doesn’t prepare you for the mental wear and tear you will soon endure.  You have got to learn how to be more patient, and trust me the Lord will provide those opportunities.  And I think how you deal with those opportunities will determine the type of parent you will be.  You probably won’t be able to spend as much time doing some of the things you love, having to sacrifice that time to raise your child(ren).  And without less time spent on those hobbies, the stress level may rise even quicker.  But in spite of the added stress, remember to just take a step back from time to time, take a deep breath, and know that it’s all more than worth it in the end.

5.       Be thankful! – Finally, I can’t stress the importance of simply being thankful for the opportunity to be a parent.  Some people don’t get the joy of raising a child, whether by choice or circumstance and as a parent you get to share in the ups and downs of parenthood.  And I feel most would agree that the good times outweigh the bad.  Be thankful for the good times, more thankful for the great times, and of course, thankful when the stresses are alleviated.  Be thankful for each giggle, smile, and laugh.  Be thankful when your boy or girl squeezes your finger, grabs your shirt, and gazes into your eyes.  Be thankful that the Lord has blessed you with a child, and make the most of the biggest opportunity of your life.
Any lessons you'd like to share?  Comment, email, tweet away!

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