innermost thoughts on fatherhood from ryan

Hello ladies, and gentlemen if there are any husbands who secretly or quietly peruse the blogs of their wives and friends.  This is definitely not Missy.  This is the man who was lucky/blessed enough to marry her through a mix of seduction and trickery; her husband.  Missy has been asking me to write a guest post for awhile now about fatherhood.  

It’s been 8 weeks and three days since my mini-me came crying and peeing his way into this world, straight out of my sweet wife’s lady bits.  I feel like I’ve been a father forever already.  We were sitting in church today, surrounded by noisy, crying and generally obnoxious children.  For the entirety of my life, these distractions would have annoyed me to the point of silent judginess, and resentment.  Resentment of the undisciplined rug rats, and the obviously horrible parents who had failed to instill any manners or reverence in their tumultuous offspring.  Sitting in the chapel today, gently rocking and swinging my son in order to appease his fussiness, I still heard all of those children make their noises.  But it is plainly obvious that I have changed in the last 8 weeks as I was able to contently sit amidst the cacophony of kinder and be grateful to be with my wonderful wife and handsome little boy.

Before Spencer made his long awaited arrival, I used to spend weekends doing absolutely nothing of consequence.  Hours would be spent reading articles on Slate, Vox, the Wall Street Journal or Business Weekly.  I watched all NINE seasons of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix in the space of six months.  I could take an hour, or up to two and a half hours at the gym.  If I wanted to go for a run, it was a matter of simply changing into some comfortable clothes, lacing up the Asics, popping in the ear buds and firing up the endomondo.  These days are over, and I don’t think they’re every coming back. 

Don’t misunderstand me.  We still find time to watch an hour or so of Netflix a night when we unwind.  I still manage to go for a run and get to the gym from time to time.  I peruse articles on google news or things of interest on Facebook daily.  But more often than not, when I find myself staring at my phone at something of nearly no importance,  my attention is called away by the most important thing in my life: my son.  It’s easy to get a little frustrated.  I’ve actually said out loud, “Hey! Can’t you see I’m very interested in this article of little to no importance?”  Then I pick him up, swing him around, make any combination of words, noises and pitches in an attempt to placate this little human being who wants to make his existence known to everything within ear shot.  I hold him, stare at him, kiss his head and face.  I’ll talk to him, to try to explain my thoughts and feelings, but really I’m trying to figure out what I’m actually thinking and feeling.  In these little monologues with my individual audience, here are some realizations I’ve come to about this new part of my life.

I love being a father.  I love this little guy.  I’m so grateful that he is in our life.  I’m grateful he is a healthy little boy.  I’d have loved him if he weren’t healthy, or if he was a girl.  But I’m grateful that he is a generally easy going, healthy little man.  The fact that he is handsome is just a bonus.  And the issue of him being my ginger clone is ridiculous.  

I love my wife more than ever.  She loves being a mother, and she is so grateful to have had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy.  But I know she has sacrificed to bring him into the world.  She had to delay her training in her athletic pursuits, she feared the changes to her body, and the hormonal roller-coaster caused her to fret, worry and panic on more than a half dozen occasions.  She would sob, wail` and cry and I was powerless to allay her fears.  The only thing I could do was hold her, and let her grief crescendo and crest until it receded like the tide on the shoreline.  She would always feel she was a burden for these episodes.  What she doesn’t really understand is that it makes me love her more.  Can these episodes be inconvenient?  Sure.  Do I feel annoyed and frustrated in the process when I’m trying to solve the problems she describes to me and I realize I’m powerless to do so?  Yes.  Do I feel like a good husband when I just hold her and let it happen until it passes and I can reassure her afterward that everything is alright?  Absolutely.  It makes me feel like her hero, and I’m grateful to her that she allows herself to be vulnerable enough to help however I can.  And for all of her sacrifices, taking care of him everyday, breast feeding him, bathing him, I know that I married the right woman.  Just another confirmation that I found the right one, even if it was on a cheap dating site on the internet. 😉

I’m going to be open and honest with my son.  This has a big caveat of age appropriateness.  I never want my son think I have a perfect past.  I’ve made some big mistakes in my life.  When he is old enough I will share these mistakes and let him know what I’ve learned.  I’ll tell him so that when he finds himself in similar circumstances, he will have better awareness than I did.  I hope it will help him make good decisions.  And I want him to know that if a normal guy, a flawed man like me could get through and succeed, that he can too.

It’s okay to make mistakes.  It’s okay to suck at things.  You always stink at something new.  Don’t worry about it.  Do what you’re interested in.  If you love it, stick with it and keep doing it until you’re good at it.  Try lots of different things.  He might love Japanese calligraphy, cowboy poetry, free diving or rally car racing.  But he’ll never know what he loves unless he is exposed to it.  And he will never be good at it if he doesn’t try and suck at it for awhile.  If it interests you, get in there and do it.

Work hard.  A good plan and hard work is the key to making anything happen in this life.  And it can’t be a one time, or a once in awhile kind of thing.  Hard work has to be consistent and habitual if its going to bear any fruit.  Its good to work hard until it hurts.  It’s good to push yourself to the point of discomfort.  This is where progress and achievement happens.  I don’t ever want to save my son from skinned knees, tears, bruises, hurt feelings and disappointment.  The things worth achieving in life take the kind of effort and result in the things listed above.  Find what you want, make a good plan, and get after it.  Every day, every week of your life.  

Love those you’re close to, and serve as many people as you can.  Take care of your family and those closest to you.  Let them know you love them through acts of kindness and service.  Write thank you cards, give lots of hugs, and tell people you love them.  This world needs more grateful, service oriented individuals to make it better.  Start with yourself and those around you.

Don’t EVER disrespect your mother.  I might love you unconditionally.  But I CHOSE your mother.  She is my wife, my queen and my lady.  Don’t ever take her for granted.  She has done more for your well being than you will ever know.  When you have children of your own, you’ll have a better appreciation for the sacrifices she made.  Love her.  Respect her.  Honor her.  Don’t do anything that would reflect poorly on her.

I think that’s pretty good.  If I can get four main ideas across to him, he’ll be better off than I was coming up in the world.  We’ll make sure to keep him in church, where he will learn about the redemption of Christ, and where he will be surrounded by positive individuals who will help cultivate his character and reinforce our values.  

I love this guy.  I love being a dad.  I hope somebody else finds this insightful or helpful.  God bless.