Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Being a Father

It is Father's day. A day of tie-gifting, card delivering and general grilling utensil accepting. Have you ever heard the saying, "Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"? Well, the lesser known corollary is, "Daddy ain't happy, ain't nobody care". Father's day always seemed to be a holiday created to give some level of balance to Mother's having their own day the month previous.

I don't want to sound too cynical, because despite it's beginnings, I look forward to it. I've been a father for 8 years now and I hear it only gets more difficult/rewarding here on out! Here is a list of things men should be aware of before becoming a father:
*Kids are one of the major causes of gray hair.
*Childrens' need for attention rises in inverse proportion to the level of interest you have in what you are doing.
*In addition to those happy times of piggy back rides at the zoo, videotaping 1st birthdays, and attending recitals, there are also times of cleaning up vomit from the carpet just outside the bathroom door, trying in vain to remove a deadly splinter from a foot after telling him 10 times to put on shoes before he went outside, having to administer an antiemitic in suppository form because they can't keep down the liquid.
*No matter how weird it may sound before you take on the title, your favorite name will be Daddy.

I've been called lots of things (to my face, and probably lots more behind my back), but my favorite name is Daddy. I love my children unashamedly, without reserve, to the point my heart feels on the verge of bursting from the love it contains. If you want to get in good with me, really fast... dote on my children.

Being a father has been my greatest adventure. My children teach me things every day. One of my daily lessons is invariably patience, a subject I fear that I must continually learn. If you want to know how you are, look at your children. They reflect you. I'm glad to say that my children are fun to be around, kind and generous to others, helpful and creative, silly and yet profound. On the other hand, they all tend to have their moments of whining, disobedience, disrespect, and stubbornness. Maybe I need to rethink my assertion....

I don't think everyone is cut out to be a father. Anyone can have a child, it is shockingly easy to do. Being a father is a task on an entirely different level. Being a father requires a man to be at once both loving and stern, level-headed and impulsive, authoritative and collaborative, flexible and unyielding. Knowing when to exhibit which trait is sometimes difficult.

Being a father makes me appreciate my own parents a little more. It has been said that the only curse that truly takes is, "I hope you have children that are just like you!" Not that I was a handful. No, I was an angel, a piece of cake, no trouble at all. Just ask my parents, they are the ones in the corner of the rubber room in the tight white jackets. All kidding aside, it is a really tough job at times. However, God has graced most parents with the ability to let the trying times fade and focus on the moments of joy.

In a drawer upstairs, I have one of the gifts I was given on a past father's day. It is a cardstock tie, cut to size and colored with green crayon (my favorite color) and decorated with random stickers. It was attached to a piece of elastic band so it could be worn. Being a father means that you wear the cardstock tie to church Sunday morning. I got more compliments on that tie than any article of clothing I've ever worn.

Being a daddy means that I'm going to be really sad the day that Ethan figures out that boys don't kiss boys. I'll miss his "kiss attacks".

In my wallet, I have a paper cutout of a key. Mary Hannah was tracing things one day and she cut it out and gave it to me. I asked her, "What is this for?" She answered, "It is the key to my heart, daddy." It is one of my most treasured possessions.

Eleanor has a spring loaded bed. I mean, she must, because she is up and out of it so many times each night, it has to be the answer. For all the frustration with getting her to go to bed and stay there, I am convinced that she gets her night-owl habits from her daddy. Some nights, after she's managed to get to sleep and then is woken up by some trifle, instead of sending her right back to bed, I'll enjoy a cuddle in the chair in the living room. Ele is the best cuddler. It takes one to know one.

Newsong has a number that connects my role as father with my relationship with God. It is called, "Your favorite name is Father". I linked a YouTube video. Check it out.

Here are some things I do with my kiddos that make me happy:
wrestling on the floor*playing on the Wii*jumping on the trampoline*coloring pictures*making French Toast*going out for Sno-Cones*running errands*hugs and kisses*combing hair after bathtime*taking pictures*shopping for mommy*singing in the car*playing in the sprinkler*reading nighttime stories*giving piggyback rides*wearing matching clothes*playing tag*being appreciative of their crafts*listening to their stories*making them laugh*cleaning out the car*taking road trips*sitting down at the dinner table with them*getting help with household tasks*picking out flowers*attending their school activities*arranging for playdates*getting haircuts*surfing the web*more hugs and kisses*

Fathers: Enjoy this day, but remember to enjoy everyday. Being a daddy is the greatest job in the world.


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