Some part of me knew I was going to be a father since I was a child. The first time I recall deciding to be a parent I was walking through the kitchen cuddling my childhood cat. I cradled her and gave an infinite amount of head scratches. My mom saw and chuckled that I would make a great father one day. In that moment it dawned on me that I could possibly do what my parents were doing for me. Throughout my life, in pivotal situations I would find myself wondering what I would do when I am the parent. Would I really ground my kids from video games for such a minor infraction? Surely, I will give my kid the best toys and clothes because I would understand the importance of being accepted by your peers.
As I grew up this trend didn’t exactly stop, but I would find myself changing the beliefs I once had for something that understood an adult perspective. Eventually I’d come to understand the value of hard work and sacrifice, and I planned to mentor my future child to absorb the virtues I’ve come to learn.
When I was getting to know the lovely woman that would become my wife we bonded on the hypothetical situations of how we would handle certain parenting events. We found ourselves agreeing in most of these situations. It left me confident that we would make excellent parents if not only for the reasons that our decisions would mold our child to be a well rounded and happy person.
Then the moment I had prepared for came, and all the plans I once had as a parent were flipped upside down. The things I needed to be prepared for were nothing like what I expected. The feeling of idiocracy impaled me when I realized the obvious truth that parenting doesn’t instantly jump from pregnancy to bonding with a child that can understand you.
While my wife was dealing with pregnancy I was frantically looking for what I could be doing. I wanted to gain the wisdom of ages as to how to best care for a pregnant wife and embrace this new life that I will be responsible for with open arms. I bought books targeted to upcoming dads in my situation to only find its advice trivial. Being told that I would have to learn how to put a pizza in the oven because my pregnant wife will not be able to cook doesn’t relate to a man who brags about his gumbo.
The realities of parenthood took on a much different form than I expected. A shift occurred inside of me. While I thought parenthood was making these profound big decisions and how important it was that I always made the right choice, I realized that parenthood is about millions of small decisions and choices, some mundane and seemingly lacking long-term consequences. More importantly though, it is about embracing the moment and taking an active role instead of sitting by the sidelines. If she wants to swing for an hour or walk around in her mom’s shoes, instead of fighting the chaos, I’m here to facilitate it.
Maybe these moralistic, predetermined decisions weren’t quite as important as I once thought. Maybe what’s more important is that I’m just aware of her experiences. Life seems to be more about soaking in these experiences.
I’m learning just to watch this little human grow. To help her discover the beauty of color. To witness the delight in my child’s eye when she realizes someone can understand the words she says. To guide her as she sits with me while cooking. To see her childlike wonder as she discovered the most fascinating tastes and smells. On that note, I take pride in my cajun daughter calling red beans and rice her favorite meal.Through her I understand, once again, what it truly means to live. The audacious innocence in finding joy in the smallest things; like popping bubbles.
Maybe one day I’ll find myself dropping little nuggets of wisdom to my daughter, or those decisions I made long ago of being a father will get their time. I think I’ll spend more of my time embracing whatever moment my family finds themselves in. For now, it is enough.