Nothing in this world prepares you for being a father. There is no class you can take, book you can read, or experience you can call on to prepare yourself for it. For nine months you watch your wife carry around the child and understand that she will always share a bond with the child you will never know. Nor should you. However, when you hold that child for the first time, the weight of the responsibility you now are undertaking hits you. You are now responsible for the life of another person in a way so foreign it is hard to explain. Yet in the same moment, you seem to flash forward to all the memories you want to make with them. It’s as if you have seen it before, as if it had already happened. You embark on the challenges of fatherhood feeling nervous yet ready.
There are two things that fathers are responsible for, and one compliments the other. You have to raise your children in a way that will lead to them being good, successful, happy people, and you have to do so in a way that is kind, compassionate yet stern. One cannot happen without the other. It is a balancing act that I at times fail at. Mothers are naturals in the ways of raising children, fathers have to learn by their example. My two boys have taught me more in their short time here on Earth than I had learned leading up to their arrival. They are different people, have different needs and personalities that are unique to them. They have taught me patience in the ways only children can. They have taught me a different level of love I hadn’t even known existed. And they have taught me that the material things I have now do not matter, rather it is what I leave behind with them, memories and experiences with them that matter. It is the lessons I taught them of how to treat others that counts. It is the lessons I taught them of opening the doors for their mother, giving her flowers just because, that will hopefully make them loving and honorable spouses.
I hope that when they get to be my age and think of me on Father’s Day, they remember me in a way that makes them smile. I hope they remember me in a way that they say to themselves, dad did right by us, he helped shape who we are. That is the legacy I would like to leave behind. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.