Most guys celebrating Father’s Day at my age get a convertible. I got a baby.
For the previous 10 years, my life centered around being a good father to my daughter, Madison.
As many of you know, my life was turned upside down when my son, Jackson, arrived two days before my 46th birthday. As even more of you know, babies tend to be a little more work than 11-year-old girls.
It’s been a whirlwind of diapers, dishes, scanning the Sunday papers for Huggies coupons, 3 a.m. feedings, sleeping on the floor next to the crib, doctor’s appointments, medical bills, loud crying and some days being too tired to remember what the dog’s name is or what day it was.
And this boy is a good baby!
I can’t even imagine the other way.
A friend of mine told me she didn’t know if she would “have the juice” anymore to raise a kid.
I wasn’t sure either until I got a look at the little guy — and saw how his face lit up when he got a look at my daughter.
It’s priceless stuff. It’s the “good stuff.”
Several times over the last three months, I’ve thought about what drives people to want to be parents, what makes them go through all of this pain and suffering, sometimes paying tens of thousands of dollars to get pregnant for the chance to be a mother or a father.
It’s a humbling experience, especially for the mothers. It’s sometimes thankless.
I half-jokingly asked my father on several occasions why he didn’t beat me more as a child. Lord knows I probably needed it, and certainly deserved it a few times.
He looked at me and smiled and said that he couldn’t remember any of the bad things I had done, just the “good stuff.”
Now, L.W. Kohler was a good talker for sure, but that one was off the charts even for him.
I asked about the broken back door in 10th grade, driving the Beetle to Philly for a concert in ’86 against his explicit orders, the station wagon battery blowing up that summer on the paint crew, the wrecks, the speeding tickets, the silliness between the ages of 19 and 22, my inability to think before I spoke.
None of that matters now, he told me once. “All part of growing up.”
I never really got that until I became a father.
I think the best fathers agree with that. What’s important is the “good stuff” and making sure you do everything in your power to give your kids the good stuff, or making it possible for them to earn it themselves.
Being a father is such an awesome responsibility, and it’s not one to be taken lightly.
Fathers have such a major impact on their kids, and I want to be like my dad: He got his kids through the bad things, but focused on the “good stuff.”
Becoming a father again at my age has reminded me that the bad things will pass, and to enjoy the “good stuff” in whatever form — a smile and a giggle from the baby, a hug out of the blue from my tween daughter, sleeping one more hour, a Father’s Day performance on the piano at church from my daughter today.
That’s the “good stuff” my dad was talking about. I hope all you dads get some of that today.
Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.