The Perfect Dad
It is hard to explain all of the emotions that I felt when I first found out my wife was pregnant. We had been dating for 10 years, married for almost a year, and having a family is something we had talked about since the beginning of our relationship. We had planned to wait and start trying for a baby in the fall of 2020, but as work and restrictions continued throughout the spring, and we were stuck at home together every day…we didn’t make it past June.
Fast forward to March 2021: The nurses had just left the room and the three of us were alone for the first time; me, my wife, and our new baby girl, Josefina. Those 2 days in the hospital were somewhat of a blur, but this wasn’t a dream anymore. We were about to take our daughter home…no returns, no refunds. You are her father now.
That realization didn’t fully sink in for me until we got home, and had to weave our daily life around someone who needs everything from you. You can read the books, take the classes, and do all of the things they have available for new parents, which do help, but there is really no substitute for being thrust into the game. It is amazing how you can adapt to this new crazy schedule. Waking up throughout the night, the feedings, constantly changing diapers, bath time, crying (the baby, not me), day-after-day. It can feel exhausting at times, but just like anything you do over and over, quickly it becomes part of your routine. There was many times where I felt stressed, lost, or worried that I wasn’t doing something right. Then I realized there isn’t a rule book out there on how to be the perfect dad. You make your own rules.
She will grow and build off of the foundation you set out for her, whatever that may be. Trust your instincts, you know what she needs. Keep showing up. Take care of her the best way you know how. These were things I would tell myself throughout those early days and even later nights.
Then you blink…
Josie is 10 months old now, with the stubbornness and dramatic personality of a teenager. The days of laying her in the middle of the floor while you go wash dishes or pick up the house are long gone. She is on the move, leaving toy shrapnel in her wake. Life is now a series of, “get out of there” or “don’t touch that”, hanging off of your leg while you cook dinner, or getting ahold of the tissue box and ‘making it rain’ in our living room. “No” to her means, stare at dad…and then try it again to see if he yells some more. She is her father’s daughter.
Then there is the other side of her; the silly, loud, happy, loving little girl. Every morning when we get her out of bed, she is standing there, peeking out of her crib, with the biggest smile on her face. It truly changes your whole attitude on the day, and you forget about everything else in that moment. You forget about the long nights, the crying, the fears of parenting, and realize that you are her world, and she loves you for it. That to me is all I need.
I won’t ever be the perfect dad, I inevitably will make mistakes, but that is what makes this life interesting. If someone figures out the best way to do it, you let me know. Until then, I will continue to love that little girl with everything I have, and make her laugh every day. It is her smiles, the laughs, and the hugs that got me hooked from the minute I held her. She made me get soft, drop my guard, and say something crazy like, “Let’s have another one”…
My wife is due with our baby girl #2 in May.
(written by Mike)