SFH #154: Fatherhood

A new health journey for me

Nothing has had a more profound impact on my life than becoming a father. It has a lot to do with my upbringing. My mother used to say that the most significant thing in her life was her children, and I still feel it today. We are not as close as we once were, but I've always known how important my sister and I were/are to my mom. Our close relationship has been impactful. And that connection is a vital reason I was eagerly awaiting fatherhood. On the other side of my caregiving experience was my dad. He was stern, intimidating, and ran a tight ship. Leading up to becoming a husband and a father, I knew I wanted to have a deeper relationship with my kids because I felt like I missed out on that opportunity with my father. It was just a matter of time and patience.

On December 13th, 2015, it all came together, and my fatherhood journey began. Henry was born, and it was a whirlwind. Most of the first year was wondrous and a blur. He was a pretty easygoing baby, and even with stressors swirling, I got to come home to the joy of him. Then, somewhere between Henry and Hawk being born, I started to feel the pressure of getting it right. My nerves were beginning to wear thin from balancing everything. The smallest things would get to me. I couldn't even watch a scary movie anymore. My nerves couldn't handle it. As the boys were getting started in life, I felt like mine was turning upside down. I consistently questioned how I was showing up in life, especially as a father, whether it was a proverbial mid-life crisis or a sweeping seismic shift in my foundation being a new father, I don't know. What I did know was that nothing would ever be the same for me, and I had a massive responsibility to show up for these two boys.

Fast forward a few years, and I am writing this blog as they are 4 and 5 and 1/2 (as Henry likes to say). We stayed up late on the pull-out futon in the living room of our Airbnb in our 3rd home city in the last year. I spent the entire day with them, entertaining them at the pool, playground, beach, and room as we get through another day of settling into life in Miami. I toggle between having moments of pure joy (snuggling and answering fun questions) and utter frustration (kicking each other, meltdowns, and spilling the 4th drink of the day). It's the true spectrum of all the feelings. They bring everything up for me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My experience as a father has turned me inside out. I do my best to reveal and show them how I feel—good, bad, or ugly. This is what I want to model for them—being with them, being expressive. Showing love, showing deference and showing them everything they feel is valid. When I see them, I see all the possibilities I had in this life and more. Being a father is marvelous, and it's the hardest thing I've ever done.