"Me as a father. " Are you kidding me?"
More than a year ago when my wife was less than 4 weeks out from giving birth, that exact thought was going through mind countless times and faster than I could handle it.
Remember, I'm that guy who still plays baseball (hardball not softball) competitively with collegiate players, has four video game systems, 389 Star Wars Action Figures in boxes, 10,000 baseball cards and more than 500 comic books among other miscellaneous "collectibles" who never thought he'd get married much less be responsible for another human being. In summary: I'm a kid in an adult body and in some respects, doesn't want to grow up.
One full year has passed since my wonderful son Nathan has graced us with his presence and I must say that when I still think of myself as a "father", it still sounds a bit foreign. Have you ever had a little kid refer to you with by your last name, i.e. Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones? The fatherhood concept for me even now is like being broadsided with a "Hello, Mr. Smith" when you've never been referred to by your last name before.
Growing into my role as a father has been a slow yet relaxing and comfortable process. Looking back, it wasn't always "comfortable". Those early months when a newborn is basically a poop and vomit factory were nerve-racking for this first time parent. Our son was born a month early so we were so concerned with him putting on weight. The next thing you know, he was having stomach issues which was diagnosed as "overfeeding syndrome".
"What in the hell is this? How many new 'syndromes' are there and are you making this one up?" Yes, I actually said that to the doctor.
Anyway, I was so afraid of screwing something up whether it was allowing him to suck in too much air or forgetting to change his diaper thinking that this was going to cause irreversible harm. I know, every parent goes through it. But the thought of every parent over the last ten thousand years having the same fears didn't matter. To me, I was the only one experiencing this. After all, those billions of parents before me weren't the ones holding my son feeding him milk at 2AM.
Then by month three, I had the whole feeding, changing and sleeping process down to a science and ultimately came to this conclusion: Unless you have zero patience, can't count or have very little balance, anyone can feed a baby, change a baby's diaper and rock a baby to sleep. Not to overly simplify my role but fatherhood as I defined it hadn't kicked in at that point. Caretaker might have been a better description of my role.
(Note: At the risk of being subpoenaed for plagerism in reference to my usage of the word "CARETAKER" in the previous paragraph, we here at Evening With Sabs wish to give a proper reference to "CARETAKER" in the article first seen at ColonelT at colonelt.com. See the Colonel's 4th point)
It wasn't until my son turned 6 months that his personality became a distinguishing characteristic and the term "fatherhood" became near and dear to me. Let's be honest. Babies from newborn age to about 3 or 4 months old aren't the most fun so this moment was what I was waiting for. It was at this point that I realized that my influence as a parent was making a difference. He was responding to me; he looked when he heard my voice. Talk about being blown away! The moment that my son recognized my voice and ONLY responded to me and not another person aside from my wife was as powerful as the moment he was born. I don't whether it was an involuntary reaction or what the actual neurological/psychiological term for it was but it wasn't some random fluke. HE RESPONDED TO ME. He was looking to me for guidance. Fatherhood as I always knew it to be defined had just begun. At that millisecond in time, the feeling that I was experiencing duplicated the feeling I had when my wife and I found out that we were to become parents:
PURE HAPPINESS AND ULTIMATE TERROR!
The molding of my son was beginning and I was in the driver's seat. "What if" scenerios started flashing in and out of my head faster than my left-brained mind could process. After several weeks of overload caused by my runaway mind driven by the endless permutations of what being a poor parent might yield, I made myself take a more relaxed approach to fatherhood. No longer do I dwell on the "what could happen if" scenarios. I'm just having fun and the parenting, as I see it now--will take it's course in due time.
Now at one year, my son Nathan knows what he wants and isn't afraid to tell you. He is mobile (crawling and walking a bit) and is a blast to play with! Sure he busts out the attitude if you take away the box of Cheerios at breakfast or the super-big 32 ounce cup that he thinks he can drink from but that's all a part of the journey.
Its taken this long for me to realize what my mindset needs to stay in to be the very best father I can be for my one year old. I'm sure that I will continue to reevaluate my father skills at year two, year three and so on. But as my parents and in-laws tell me, "that's the magic that is parenting".
My take on being a parent: You never stop learning, you never stop teaching and you should never stop having fun.
So back to the question.
"Me as a father. "Are you kidding me?"
Nope. And I couldn't be happier!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATHAN!