Becoming a Dad

 

jacksteiner

I can’t tell you when we decided that it was time to try to become parents, at least I can’t give you an exact date. Maybe I should have started blogging far earlier than I did. Not sure that it really matters as I remember the important details or at least some of them.

 

If you’ll forgive the venture into the land of TMI, there was something surreal in knowing that this was not a drill. It was time to find out if the boys could swim. For years I had worked hard to make sure that the swimmers wouldn’t break free and now I was doing the opposite. Now I was worried that perhaps they might not know what to do, maybe I had stupid sperm that would swim in circles or somehow get lost.

 

It was strange to be worried about that. All those years of being told to be careful, have safe sex, don’t get a disease or pregnant were out the window. At the time only a few of my friends had kids and none of them had any trouble getting pregnant.

 

In fact one of them is so fertile that her husband only has to think baby and she is instantly knocked up. It is kind of a neat trick, but not nearly as much fun as doing it the old fashioned way, but I digress.

 

The idea that one day some kid was going to call me dad was exciting and a little bit frightening. I had always wanted children, but it was surreal to think that I had actually reached the place where such things were possible. I wasn’t really afraid of being a bad father- wasn’t concerned with the state of the world. In my eyes it was as safe and as dangerous as it had ever been.

 

What I worried about was that the kids to be would be too much like me. Now before you accuse me of being some crazy narcissist understand that I was the kid who played stuntman. I pushed the limits and did some nutty stuff. It was fun to talk about. Great to tell stories about how my friends and I had done something incredible. The problem was that when I tried to look at it as a father might it made my head hurt.

 

And now years later it makes it spin. If my kids are as dumb as I was I am going to lose all of my hair and suffer a nervous breakdown. What the hell was wrong with me. I jumped off the roof into swimming pools, out ran the train in my Camaro and jumped over a few bonfires.

 

But that is part of the joy of being a parent. It is knowing that somehow in spite of all the crazy and stupid things you have done you made it to the other side.

 

Somehow you got through it all. You have lots of stories of good and bad experiences that you hope to share one day with those kids. Distilled wisdom that you offer free of charge because they are your children and you want them to avoid some of the pitfalls you had to deal with.

 

The thing is that it will take years before you really begin to find out if the lessons you have tried to pass along have had impact. Decades before you can really assess whether you did a good job in passing it along.

 

But the good news is that along the way you’ll have one hell of a good time.

 

All I know is that the past decade has been exceptionally hard and exceptionally rewarding. There have been days where I really have wanted to go back in time and tell that young fool to wear a condom. Really, he managed to avoid getting in trouble in spite of himself, couldn’t he have kept the streak going.

 

But then they do something, these children of mine. They see me crazed with anger and concern and give me a hug or a kiss. They draw pictures or tell me a story and in seconds I can’t remember being angry. It is good to be dad. It is good to be a father, even if it means paying for a private school that won’t let me retire until I am 235.

 

Yep, life is pretty good for this dad.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Seattledad March 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Great post Jack. No mattter hard it gets, I never find myself getting mad at my son. I hope that continues.

    • Jack March 28, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      Good luck with that. Eventually they find a way to upset us and that is ok. Just as long as you don’t stay angry. They are special people, these kids of ours.

  2. Jeff March 28, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Couldn’t agree more that there are times it is hard to wrap my head around being a dad. All the years of wisdom that my dad passed along to me about controlling my temper and anger, I’m trying to do the same with my boy. And all the while, my Dad can sit back with a huge grin on his face … knowing that he distilled the right knowledge to me, no matter how hard-headed I seemed. And I can be confident that I’ll eventually get through to my boy as well. But nonetheless, this is a great ride.

    • Jack March 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

      My grandfather used to say that you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders. It was a line that my father would repeat as well. I found it infuriating but over time I learned that they were right.

  3. Jack March 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Hey, that light saber idea has a lot of merit. I’d like it for the dating stuff and just to bring along in the car. Never know when you might need to ‘educate’ another driver. 😉

  4. Clark Kent's Lunchbox March 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Unlike Jedi, when it comes to parenting, the student never really becomes the master, the student only wields more power and is faced with greater consequences. But the rewards are greater too.

    …I really would like a light saber though–would come in handy for scaring a few of the girls’ dates they bring home.

  5. Aidan Donnelley Rowley March 27, 2011 at 4:59 am

    As I grapple with this parenthood thing for the third time now, I so love this. Being a parent is hands down the hardest and most rewarding gig in the world. This comes across so clearly here, in your words. (And I love the humorous bit about private school tuition at the end!)

    • Jack March 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Tuition is only funny until you have to pay for it. 😉 But I really do love being a dad even if it has made me lose half my hair and prematurely aged me.

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