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On Being a Dad

Pat Lemieux is a gifted writer and a proud new dad. I love reading his stuff – leaves me reeling in the years every time. My babies are 22 and 23. When they told me that time flies I didn’t believe them.

I especially enjoyed his most recent blog on becoming a curmudgeon. Opening my mouth and hearing an old person complaining allows me to laugh at myself. Mark Twain was right – getting old isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative. I wouldn’t relive most of my past for anything – but I would love to have one more day of my kids being 5 and 6. We played a lot then.

Getting older does funny things to your memory. It’s all a highlight reel in my head and it’s all good. I have a thousand stories to tell but most of them have to be triggered by what folks are going through. Pat makes me remember how much I loved it, how much I was scared shitless, and how much I’d have sold my soul for a two hour nap.

I am reminded of how much I miss being needed the way a young child needs a parent. Raising children is a gradual process of letting go. My heart broke twice. My playmates were gone and I had to go back to socializing with the grownups.

I’m not sure what advice to give new dads because I know I wouldn’t have believed any of this when I was young. I would never have imagined that I could be furious with the little girl in 5th grade who broke my son’s heart on his first crush. I’d have shaken my head if you’d told me that I’d cry my eyes out on the first day of kindergarten. I would never have believed that second grade girls could start their day on a playground by asking, “Who are we going to be mad at today?”

I wouldn’t have taken it to heart if you’d told me that it was all going to work out great. I was too scared and too busy trying to hide how scared I was. I couldn’t get the crib put together, couldn’t figure out a onesie, and emergency C-sections were not what I had in mind. I wouldn’t have imagined that my wife could endure the Hell she did to bring two perfect children into this world. But she did. Twice.

I might have believed you if you’d predicted I’d be screaming like a fool at swimming meets and a football games. I’d have loved hearing about how my daughter would plan to marry me and how my kids would serve the worst breakfast in bed anyone had ever seen.

Sometimes it looked dreadful and turned out great. I naively believed that my wife and I would be the sole influences in our children’s lives. I learned otherwise when I took them to swimming lessons. My kids always loved the water but would never put their face in it. Instead they clung to me and we’d play. Despite my best efforts they just wouldn’t do it. I took them to swim lessons at ages 4 and 5 and some 19 year old kid who’d never met them told them to put their face in the water. They didn’t even hesitate. I thought I’d have an aneurism.

Today I am forever grateful that my children had such great teachers, coaches, and countless other positive influences in their lives. I’m proud that my feminist sister gave Jamie a My Size Barbie after she explained, “I am giving you this because I love you and want you to be happy. I need for you to know that Barbie is a tool of social oppression.” We raised the most socially aware children anywhere.

I know well that nothing in this world can make you more proud than your children. My perspective today is largely explained by the simple fact that the two most important things I will ever do were done as well as I could possibly do them and they turned out great. If I do naught else in this lifetime I have imparted the very best parts of who I am into two adults who have become wonderfully unique and talented.

Sleepless nights, projectile vomiting, carpooling, I don’t miss. Cuddling, being goofy in the way you only are with your kids, and being their hero…yeah, I miss those. Time flies.

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