I feel blessed to be entering my 6th year of fatherhood.
The last five years have been challenging and very tiring. Beyond having a five year old and twin (almost) four year olds, balancing home life, work, marriage, and other relationships is exhausting. I wouldn't trade it for the world, though.
I've grown more in the last five years than probably any other period in my life. Constantly learning, growing, and adjusting to become a better person, a better parent, and a better husband. I know it's worth it because I have three little girls that absolutely love and adore me. Not to mention a happy wife who loves and appreciates me -- someone who brings a smile to my face every time I see her walk into a room. I couldn't ask for anything more.
So what's the secret? Leo Babauta says it a lot better than I could in his post The Tiny Guide to Being a Great Dad. Three simple rules, really. His post could easily be re-named The Tiny Guide to Being a Great Person. It is universal.
Be There. Love Them. Be Present.
Everything beyond that is icing on the cake.
The hardest part is not getting caught up in the stress and hectic nature of our life. With three kids virtually the same age, full time jobs, side jobs to make extra money, managing a household, making time for friends, and (most importantly -- I learned this the hard way) doing everything possible to constantly improve your relationship with your spouse... this can be a challenge. It's tiring and ridiculously hard work. It's easy to get caught up, even when you think you have things under control. Believe me, I know.
The key thing, for me, is living in the moment as much as I can, with a dash of patience, purpose, perseverance, humility, and laughter.
It means making time for your kids when they ask. Even if it's something you've done a hundred times before.
It means being present and focused on your wife when you finally get a chance to have a date or spend just a few minutes together.
It's being patient, calm, and thoughtful when your life feels exactly the opposite.
It's cherishing those memories you get an opportunity to re-experience with your kids. (But not re-living your life through your children. It's a fine balance.)
It's giving your kids the skills to solve problems, be independent, and make good decisions. Then getting the hell out of the way. (Thanks Merlin Mann for that great tip.)
It's giving up on any sense of manliness or who you think society thinks you should be -- those darn expectations. Just be real. Let your guard down. Dance, be silly, and do crazy things like slide head first down your kid's princess slip and slide with all your clothes on. Show your kids it's OK to be weird, to be yourself, and to be creative.
It's forgiving yourself and those you love when mistakes are made. Then working your ass off to make things right (and better.)
It's tearing up to a Taylor Swift song at your daughter's dance recital. (Don't judge.)
The Best Day I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you, I run and run Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides, look now, the sky is gold I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home</p>
I don't know why all the trees change in the fall But I know you're not scared of anything at all Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away But I know I had the best day with you today</p>
I'm thirteen now and don't know how my friends could be so mean I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys And we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away And we talk and window shop 'til I've forgotten all their names
I don't know who I'm gonna talk to now at school But I know I'm laughing on the car ride home with you Don't know how long it's gonna take to feel okay But I know I had the best day with you today
I have an excellent father, his strength is making me stronger God smiles on my little brother, inside and out, he's better than I am I grew up in a pretty house and I had space to run And I had the best days with you
There is a video I found from back when I was three You set up a paint set in the kitchen and you're talking to me It's the age of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs And Daddy's smart and you're the prettiest lady in the whole wide world
And now I know why the all the trees change in the fall I know you were on my side even when I was wrong And I love you for giving me your eyes For staying back and watching me shine
And I didn't know if you knew, so I'm takin' this chance to say That I had the best day with you today
Fucking. Taylor. Swift. I know. < p id="yui_3_17_2_1_1407674114902_469406">Happy Father's Day to all the dudes that work hard to be not just a good dad, but the best person they can be.