My beautiful, smiling, brilliant, opinionated, strawberry blonde little angel is one today. She’s one. I don’t know what happened. There was crying and diapers and midnight feedings (admittedly much more by my wife than myself, but I digress), bumps, bruises, learning experiences and the occasional fear that I was completely ruining my daughter’s life, and suddenly I have a one year old. She is brilliant, entirely too cute for her own good, and is pretty much already the boss in the house. In my twelve months as a father, there are many nuggets of wisdom I would like to pass on. You know, seeing as I’m an old pro now. Or something. Here are 10 things fatherhood has taught me about life.
1. Slow down. Nothing shows you quite how fast your life moves like having a baby. Suddenly, she’s one. She is 1/18th of the way to adulthood. It has flown by, and I’m terrified of missing it. Having this little lady in the house is making me reevaluate what it means to be present. Don’t blink, people. Be present. Savor every day.
2. Stop stressing. There are way too many unknowns in life to spend your time constantly stressed and under the gun. Guess what? One way or another, everything will work out. You’ll be fine. Take a breath, let tomorrow worry about itself, and just take care of today.
3. Have joy like a child. My daughter finds so much beauty, bewildering disbelief and pure joy in the simplest of things. From a single flower, to the color of the sky, to the shine on daddy’s ring, she sees beauty in the every day. That bewilderment and unfiltered joy is astonishing. I wish I saw the world through the same lens.
4. Invest in family. There is nothing more precious than family. Think outside yourself, think of others, look at how you can make their day better, how you can serve them, and you will have a sense of peace and happiness that comes from very few things in life. This is a lesson I’m still learning, so to my wife reading this, sorry I haven’t been better.
5. Things are just things. It’s all stuff. It’s junk. In the end, it doesn’t matter at all. Your clothes, your jewelry, who won the NBA Finals (side note… go Golden State) – in the end, none of that matters. What matters is love; what matters is family. 20 years from now, I will care a lot more about how my daughter thinks of me than I will about how I looked one day at that one place for that one event.
6. You are more resilient than you think. Life happens, mistakes are made, things don’t go according to plan, and sometimes that is terrifying. But the more I get through, the more I take on and see myself grow, the more I am learning that I’m a very resilient creature. You’ll be just fine, promise.
7. Forgive yourself. Hate to break it to you, but you’re human. You’re going to screw up, especially when it comes to parenting. If you constantly dwell on your mistakes, that’s where you will stay. It is so crucial to forgive yourself, to let yourself learn instead of dwelling in your imperfections. Keep your chin up and eyes forward. Stop regretting, start learning.
8. Listen. Listen, listen more, and when you feel like you’ve listened enough, listen again. You are surrounded by people willing to provide words of wisdom, others who want your feedback, and others still that have needs you are capable of meeting for them. You will miss all of these if your ears are tuned out to the world around you. Get out of your own head, stop focusing on yourself, and start listening to the people around you. Game changer.
9. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Like nothing I have experienced, parenting is wonderfully adapt at hurdling you outside of your comfort zone. With each new phase, you are presented with an entirely new set of challenges that you feel absolutely inept to handle. Get used to this! Feeling uncomfortable in new situations is perfectly fine, just don’t let it completely hamper your ability to step out, try something new, and tackle the situation head on. Embrace these learning experiences for what they are.
10. There is no love like your love for your child. Nothing – and I mean nothing, compares. Your child is the only thing on this planet that can simultaneously elate you and break your heart. Never before have I desired so deeply to be better – to be perfect – than I do when I am around this kid. She is the light of my life, a one year old representation of all I hold dear. There are no words, no possible way to describe, what it means to have a child and the instant, remarkably intense love that you feel for them. This is the only situation as a writer where I feel absolutely comfortable in knowing that I will be unable to describe the way I feel.
Parenting is awesome. It’s challenging, time consuming, tiring, and simultaneously the most exciting, joyful and rewarding experience I have ever had the privilege to have. Being the father to my beautiful girl makes me more proud than anything else I could ever accomplish, and has taught me tremendous things about myself and what matters most. I hope that, in some small way, she will someday know all that she means to me.