7 Amazing Things About Being a Dad

by Stephen Abbott on 11/14/2012

Experienced parents know that our role is one big routine punctuated by moments of heart-filling joy — plus a few dashes of terror, confusion, heartbreak, and fatigue. Fathers share in this awesome responsibility called parenting, but sometimes we forget to be mindful of just how much fun we are having being a dad.

I love being a dad, and I love how being a dad has affected my outlook on the world.

Toys

Dads get a do-over when it comes to playing with cool stuff. And the stuff today is much cooler than when we were young. We get right on the floor and zoom around with their cars, build towers and then crash them down. And we can finally go all out and play with dolls and make-up-dress-up-dance-it-up without anyone questioning our sexuality. Yes — we get to play all over again.

We see the world through inquisitive eyes

When we share the world with our kids, they ask us questions. If we listen to what they are asking without trying to make it “right,” then we get to see the world as they see it. Their curiosity about life, culture, and the world around them helps us think about our reality in a whole new way. As we try to explain the real world to a child, through the simple act of describing things out loud, we come to learn just how confusing it can be sometimes. Some of the things that seem perfectly normal after four decades on earth sound downright crazy to someone new to this place. Pay attention, and we’re guaranteed to learn a few things.

We get to be the funniest guy in the world (for about a decade)

Maybe a little longer. Whether we go for slapstick, puns, or wicked-quick wit, young kids find us downright hilarious. They beg us to share our finely honed sense of G-rated dad-humor and PG rated potty humor with them all the time. Knock knock. Who’s there? Funniest guy in the world.

Life moves slower. Except when it’s moving faster

There is something really odd about the space-time continuum that falls apart with kids. Children know that 15 minutes is plenty of time to go out and play an entire game of something, and one week might as well be forever when waiting for a birthday. On the flip side, your child becomes 10 years old in the blink of an eye. Time is precious. Don’t waste one fast or slow minute.

Grandpa

Like some cosmic “I-told-you-so” passed along the generations, you learn about the sacrifices and choices your own dad made, and the things he is so proud of that he can’t wait to share. Grandpa has time and patience now, and oh-so-many stories. You get to watch from the sidelines as he passes along his own wisdom, his take on family traditions, and even his groan-inducing sense of humor that is as familiar to you as his favorite sweater.

Traditions & Values

I believe we don’t learn the real value of a tradition until we become the one to pass it down the line. Dads get to see our family rituals manifest in today’s generation, often with a new twist. We make choices about what is really important, what identifies us as a family, and what inspires us to support each other through thick and thin.

This is about a close to a superhero as I’ll ever be

I save the day. I keep monsters and villains from getting anywhere near my kid (they stay under the bed where they belong). I am a fearless warrior, saving my family from alien creatures invading our home (I kill spiders and restore calm). I stand for all that is good in the world and prevail over evil (I can breakup a schoolyard dispute with my mere presence). Yes, I am a superhero; the only thing I’m missing is a cape.

I’ll admit there are way more than seven reasons it’s great being a dad. Each day I get a laugh, a giggle, and an adventure, and I get to talk about nothing in particular with someone who does a pretty good imitation of me. Before kids, I was told that being a dad would make me feel all grown up. I have eagerly embraced the responsibility, but I love the way my child keeps me grounded in the magic, the possibilities, and the wonders of childhood. It’s a routine I wouldn’t change for anything.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel Eisenberg November 14, 2012 at 7:25 PM

I think Stephen is right on target. There is nothing more challenging or rewarding. My definition of a good dad is when everyone is sick in the house, the dad has 103 fever and can’t sit up. Their child yells out Daaaadddyyy I don’t feel good. The dad gets out of bed and runs up the stairs to comfort them. That’s a Dad!

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Stephen November 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Thanks, Joel. I agree—nothing it more rewarding than being a dad. And even the “sick-treating-the-sick” moments are only temporary blips.

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brian c November 15, 2012 at 2:24 AM

Right on! Love the enthusiasm. I especially love reading from other fathers who get excited about their kids. I also love the part about being a superhero. Last night I was fixing a wobbly leg on the kitchen table and my three year old said I was a superman. It’s just awesome.

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Stephen November 15, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Thanks Brian — I am always amazed at what qualifies as a superhero activity in my house, yet sometimes what I think is amazing doesn’t even earn me a high-five.

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Liz Matheis November 15, 2012 at 1:21 PM

I LOVE this blog! I have a new found respect and perspective on fatherhood for a man. Perhaps, as a mom, I have become consumed with my own experience and haven’t respected or given weight to the fact that daddy-hood is equally as amazing and overwhelming and hard and exhausting and the very reason we are expecting our 3rd!

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Stephen November 15, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Thanks for the support, Liz. Reading about other people’s experiences is a great way to know that everyone—and I mean everyone—goes through amazing and overwhelming moments as a parent. But let’s be honest—we love it, don’t we?

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Bruce Sallan @BruceSallan November 15, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Scorecards: Dashes of Terror +472
Moments of Joy: 1 – when I dropped off my 1st-born at college

JUST JOKING!

Stephen, cool and RIGHT-ON column – it’s clear, however, you’ve not had teens YET! As Eliza Doolittle said, “Just you wait…”

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Stephen November 15, 2012 at 8:35 PM

You’re right, Bruce. I don’t have teens yet. But how hard can it be, really? I mean, they’re older and more responsible, right? ;)

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Jennifer Weberman (@Dr_Weberman) November 15, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Bruce, should you break it to him or should I? :)

Stephen, I enjoyed your article, not only because its an inspiring way to look at fatherhood, but also because I feel I know you a little bit better after reading it.

BTW, can we see a picture of you playing dress up?!?!

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Angela Plaugher November 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM

This is such a great article. I can respond as a daughter by saying that my dad was and always will be my superhero. I can remember when growing up, I saw the world through his eyes. As I became older and learned that people have different beliefs, customs, etc… I thought WOW!!! They must be wrong because they don’t do it like my dad does. My dad has been pretty sick recently and I catch myself before I pout in front of him because I feel like no other person can work on my car or fix stuff like he does. In my head I think it’s not right unless he does it and although I know this is totally not true (not completely lol) I realize that my poppy earned the cape in childhood and till this day still changes into it in the phone booth as I need him. :)

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Stephen Abbott November 20, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Thanks for the comments, Angela. Your dad sounds like one of the special ones; the guys who broke the mold long before we could blog about our experiences. Guys like him did it because it was simply the right thing to do, not because they were on a mission to change the world. I really enjoy reading about what things children notice/remember about their relationships with their parents. Often, it’s the little, sometimes, accidental things that mean the most. Take care of your dad; I wish him the best.

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