I just celebrated my son’s first birthday and spent time reflecting on some of what I’ve learned in the last year.
One of the first things I realized is that the birth of your child is the single greatest experience that exists. I’m not claiming that everyone should have a child, or that you’re wrong if you don’t want them. Most of you shouldn’t. Have them, that is, because look at you.
I’m simply saying that the actual birth of a human being, that you created, is impossible to equal with any other experience aside of possibly being born yourself. The only difference is that you probably don’t remember your own birth unless you have a really good memory.
That said, the subsequent raising of your child might suck. You might resent having given up your old life in order to raise your child. You could be a shitty parent. You could even have an ugly, stupid kid. All valid reasons for you to not risk having one. I, on the other hand, was never concerned about those things. Rather than give up my old life, I just integrated my son into it. Be a shitty parent? Given that I excel at everything, not a problem. And having an ugly and/or stupid kid? He’s got my genetics so that’s a scientific impossibility.
The last year has been more rewarding for my son than I ever could have anticipated. As the undisputed greatest parent that’s ever lived, my sense of accomplishment for raising a perfect child is huge, and deservedly so. I mean, there are a lot of great parents out there so imagine how I must feel being considerably better than all of them. It’s truly humbling to outshine the rest of the world.
My son, Frankie Four, is just like me, exceptional. Beautiful blue eyes. Check. Winning smile. Check. Superior intellect, charming personality, and smelly poo poo’s. Check, check, and check. Here we are, face to face, a couple of silver spoons.
Enough nonsense. Here are 10 things I really learned in my first year as a dad.
1) Nothing does, or ever has, come close to making me feel the way I feel when my son smiles at me. When he looks up with that little face and breaks into a grin, which happens about every 3 minutes, the rest of the world ceases to exist.
2) As a proud germaphobe I am wholly disgusted at the idea of most people, except for perhaps my wife, sharing a beverage with me or taking a bite of my food. Because you people are gross. However, Frankie Four can grab food with his filthy little hand, drop it on the floor, pick it back up, put it in his mouth, partially chew it and cover it in slobber, spit it back into his filthy little hand, then hold his hand out for me to eat it. Whatever it is tastes better than than the best steak and lobster I’ve ever had.
3) My wife is way more bad ass than I am. She takes care of our son, takes care of me, takes care of the house, and works (check out her work at www.makeupartist411.com). And she complains uh, never. In fact, she thanks me on a daily basis. Not going to write any more about her. She requires her own post, not an entry on this one.
4) Having a child makes me appreciate my parents and grandparents even more than I already did. They didn’t have it easy and, under the circumstances, did an excellent job. Whenever I’m unsure of what to do as a parent I just love my son like they loved me and I know it’s exactly the right thing.
5) I want to do things that don’t involve my son approximately 10% of the time, or less. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get away for “grownup time”. But after a very brief respite from the responsibility of parenting, I want to be with my kid. When I’m not with him, I’m generally thinking about him.
6) Watching your child grow up is both awesome and heartbreaking. As much as I want him to advance quickly so I can post video of him reading at 18 months, I also want him to continue babbling unintelligibly forever. Every new stage is adorable and fills me with pride but makes me miss the stage that just ended. That’s another reason I spend virtually all of my free time with him. I don’t want to miss any of it.
7) I spent much of my life being, or trying to be, the center of attention. Now I prefer to direct my attention toward my son and your attention well, doesn’t matter so much. That said, keep paying attention to me because you deserve to treat yourself.
8) Frankie Four has me at about 50/50 on wanting another kid. On one hand, he’s so incredible that it’s hard to fathom not doing it again. On the other hand, I feel like it’s a huge risk to hope the next kid turns out to be like him. Everyone says that you’ll love the second one just as much, even if they’re different.
No, I won’t.
9) Watching Four interact with other kids is one of my favorite parts of being a parent. It’s especially great when he’s playing with the children of my friends, as it gives our bond of friendship an additional layer. My favorite play dates are those with Bodhi, the son of my good friends Jeff & Angeline. Jeff and I are the same age, and our sons are only around one month apart. Witnessing them grow side-by-side makes me hope that they develop a friendship that lasts forever.
10) Although I understood it even before my son came into this world, the moment he was born was when I learned the most valuable lesson of all — -that I was meant to be a dad. I will be forever grateful to my wife Lisa, and my son Frankie, for making me the happiest dad on earth.
And a bonus lesson-my son kills the facial expression game.
Originally published at http://badassdad.com on April 19, 2016.