I can honestly say that I never thought being a dad would be like this. Either I have a very bad memory, or my parents did not allow me to see many of their frustrations, anxieties, and perplexities. I never thought that I would hear stories of children putting a spoon down the back of their diaper and pulling out a spoon full of…. I never thought I would have to tell a child not to eat dirt. I never thought that I would have to explain to a child why riding various objects down the stairs is a bad idea. I never thought that I would have to clean spaghetti out of a diaper (and after awhile I just don’t want to know what method it arrived there). I never thought that I would be so dependent on baby wipes. I never realized that children will not normally ask the question “should I eat this?” before putting almost anything in their mouth. I never realized that having a son meant having a person (or three in my case) that literally has no idea why they just did what they did.
I never realized I was such a cry baby when it comes to movies, books, commercials, about a father and a son’s relationship. I never realized how much I would enjoy throwing a ball with my son. I never realized the joy that I would have when one of my children helps another person without me prompting them. I never realized how much funnier something is when it comes out of my children’s mouth. I never realized how much I could laugh at something simply because it came out of one of my children’s mouth (Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Dad. Dad Who? Go clean your room). I never realized how much I would enjoy hearing my son telling me about his day, and being broken hearted when he doesn’t want to. I never realized how much I could lose my temper with someone, or how much pride I could feel toward someone.
I felt the same sort of pressure when I was first married that I had to get this right, and that every decision I made would permanently shape the other person. I know that I need to be purposeful about my relationship with my children, and that I should be guiding them toward manhood and womanhood. I have also realized that I will (and have) screwed up a lot, and yet my children could still end up being a loving, caring, motivated, well-adjusted adult. I struggle with that line sometimes, you know the line I am talking about. The line between trying to be the perfect parent and offering yourself enough grace to realize that you aren’t.