I always wanted kids—-always wanted to be dad.
Luckily, my wife and I have been blessed with three kiddos of our own—-currently each of them is still under the age of 13 and technically still a child.
However, in just a few short years our two oldest will be in high school with all the accompanying issues of teenage adolescence. But even when they’re all adults with families of their own—-each will still be my bambino in their own way.
While there are dozens of reasons I love being a dad to my kids, there are five things that make fatherhood particularly special for me.
1. I Know Who I Am
I know a lot of guys who need “alone time” or a “night out with the guys” to help them balance the rigors and responsibilities of family.
The intentional yielding of oneself to the collective betterment of your kids and family is a high point of manhood. In other words, our manhood is optimized through our kids.
Not me, because my kids help me know who I am.
I crave and need the connection with my wife and kids—-particularly the kids.
My identity is so intrinsically woven with them, it’s difficult to define who I am without them.
I know there are readers who will balk at that, thinking that I’m some kind of needy mess of a man.
In actuality, I’ve been pretty successful in everything I’ve done throughout my life personally, academically, and professionally. The interdependence I willingly and radically embrace with my kids is, for me, the natural human maturation from my previous lower stations in life of independence and dependence respectively.
It’s been my firsthand and observed experience in other men that the intentional yielding of oneself to the collective betterment of your kids and family is a high point of manhood. In other words, our manhood is optimized through our kids.
2. I Reconnect with My Inner Kid
The single greatest question I love hearing asked from any of my kids is, “Daddy can you play with me?” Whenever that question comes up, I try like heck to drop what I’m doing and play like I’m their age.
Truth be told, in my heart I still feel like I’m a kid even though my aging, aching, and sagging physique is telling me otherwise.
Whether it’s a board game, Barbies, Legos, trains, fort building, general roughhousing, or whatever—-my kids extend their youth to me for a brief moment that’s more invigorating and age-defying than a yoga session followed by a kale-kiwi smoothie.
3. I Want to Be a Better Man
As a father of more than a dozen years now, I can say that I’m a better man now than I was before I was a dad.
It’s taken years, and I’m still a work in process, but most of those negative personality traits I had are blunted or dead.
In those days prior to my marriage and kids, I was more selfish, arrogant, crass, unkind, insensitive, hurtful, manipulative, and vindictive.
Because I was alone and in “casual relationships,” I really didn’t see those negative aspects of myself.
Once I met my future wife, I wanted to change for her and our future kids. It’s taken years, and I’m still a work in process, but most of those negative personality traits I had are blunted or dead.
I can honestly say I’m a better man now because of my family.
4. I’m More Focused on My Principles and Values
Whether you like it or not, parents need to instill values, morals and principles in their kids—-for the sake of the kids themselves and the sake of society at large.
However, once your kids are old enough to follow those guidelines, you can rest assured they’ll hold you to those same standards as well.
My kids have not been shy to remind me not to lie about fictional “prior commitments” if I don’t want to visit with some neighbor who invites us for dinner; or keeping extra change from an errant cashier or yelling at a guy who cuts us off as we’re driving to church—-or whatever mini-character episode I face.
I’m not perfect by any stretch, but my kids remind me of who I need to be for them and who I expect them to be as well.
5. My Kids Are a Constant Reminder That Every Moment Matters
Kids are the ultimate milestone of passing time and the realization that they’re each growing into their own person who will soon be out on their own.
The memories are great but they are not the same as the actual moments. Living each day with my kids reminds of that fact.
Thinking about their transition from parental dependence to their own independence as adults, and their ultimate interdependence when they find their own families—-fills my heart with both lightness and loss.
While they’re still kids, it makes me want to hug them a little tighter, laugh a little longer, sing one more song and read one more book at bedtime because each of these precious moments will pass into memories.
The memories are great, but they are not the same as the actual moments. Living each day with my kids reminds of that fact.
I once heard the phrase, “The days are long but the years are short.”
I’ve loved every day of being a dad with all its ups and downs, and I treasure the years I’ve had as a dad, as well as the years to come. Being a dad is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.