I wrote this several years ago for a college English class. It ended up being posted on the website This I Believe.
Becoming a parent changes everything. Or so I was told.
I knew things were going to be different when I was told I was going to be a dad. Three months later I learned my baby was going to be a girl. I had always known that becoming a dad would change my life in ways I could not prepare myself for, so I just listened to what guys who were already dads were telling me: becoming a dad changes everything. On October 8th 2010 I held my little girl for the first time. It was true that I could not have prepared myself for the experience of that moment. As far as the idea that everything would change, not so much.
There was no choir of angels singing, no great realization of the meaning of life, nothing like that. Both my her mom and I admitted that there was not the instant bonding and welling up of emotions we had expected when we first saw our little angel. I didn’t instantly become a better or even a different person. I was still me, with all my flaws and faults. I was still impulsive, I still procrastinated, and I still often suffered from the dreaded foot-in-mouth disease. The long awaited expectation that everything would change never happened. While I knew things were different now, life went on as it always had, only now I was a dad.
But I did notice differences in the way I viewed the world. I discovered that some things had become more personal than before she was born. For example I’ve always been bothered by domestic violence but now it became personal because my mind made a connection to my daughter and how angry I’d be if that happened to her.
I had also started to truly understand how short and precious life is. There is a line in the Louis Armstrong song “What A Wonderful World” where talks about babies growing and learning more than he’d ever know. My little girl won’t always be little, so I need to make the best of every moment with her. I also had to face the reality that someday I won’t be there. When my daughter turns 35, the age I am now, I will have turned 70 just a few weeks earlier.
I can’t even imagine the world she’ll grow up in. Things that defined my childhood are now found in museums and history books. She’ll grow up in a world where all the amazing technological changes over the past several years will have become commonplace if not antiquated. By the time she’s 10, DVDs & facebook will have long become things of the past and the cool new phones of today will be like rotary dial phones.
While I never experienced the earth-moving, heavens-opening change that I had so long anticipated and was told to expect there was still change. Everything had not changed, but I had changed. A lot.
May 12, 2011