By Leo Babauta
Today is Father’s Day here on Guam, and my dad is lying on my couch taking a nap. My half-siblings are all over my house playing with my six kids (they’re all around the same age), the sounds of laughter and guitar and computer games floating all over the place. My two beautiful sisters, Katrina and Ana, are on the way over with their kids.
My two-year-old daughter is on the floor next to me, playing some game I cannot fathom, laughing up at me and talking a storm (I can only understand about half her words).
It’s days like these when the joys of being a father all kind of come together.
And with all this love around me, why am I writing this post? Simply because I had to share my joy with some of my favorite people in the world — you guys.
Fatherhood can be a lot of work. OK, who am I kidding — it’s always a lot of work, a whole heckuva lotta work. There’s staying up late nights singing your baby to sleep, changing diapers all day, cleaning up spitup and throwup and all kinds of gross messes, giving baths and brushing teeth and washing dishes and always, always picking up toys, and helping with homework and driving them to soccer practice and putting together their toys on Christmas and birthdays and hosting birthday sleepovers and taking sick ones to the doctors and injured ones to the emergency room and bandaging boo-boos and hugging when things don’t go right and lecturing when they misbehave and dealing with tantrums and potty training them and cleaning up when they don’t quite make it to the potty.
It’s a lotta work.
And yet, there is no doubt that all that trouble is the merest of specks in the overall picture of fatherhood. There’s no doubt that it’s all worth it, because the wonders of fatherhood far far far outweigh the troubles.
The joys of fatherhood? Try watching your son’s soccer game, when he works his butt off all game long and then dribbles his way across the field through 8 players and scores on a long hard kick, and then look at the exhilaration and pride on his face as he celebrates afterward. Try listening to your daughter’s guitar recital after she’s practiced for weeks, fearing that she’ll mess up but believing that she’ll do great, and then swelling up with pride when she plays perfectly (well, she said there was a mistake but I didn’t hear it). Try showing off your kids’ project on medieval times to their grandparents, a project they spent weeks creating after reading about and researching the topic extensively. You’ll burst with pride.
Try listening to your 4-year-old trying to tell you a joke, stumbling to get it out, and then coming through brilliantly and amazing you with his surprisingly advanced sense of humor. Or listening to your two-year-old daughter spew out sentence after sentence, new vocabulary at all, after only saying a few words for her first 18 months. Kids never cease to amaze you.
How do I love fatherhood? Let me count the ways … actually, let me just list a few, briefly, as I want to get back to my family. :)
- I love watching my little ones sleeping. They’re such angels, asleep, especially compared to the wild maniacs they can be while awake.
- I love when they cuddle with me.
- I love playing peek-a-boo under the covers with them.
- I love reading with them, no matter what age they are (I read with my 15-year-old daughter!).
- I love playing board games with them. I rule at Risk, but just got beat at Sorry!
- I love playing sports with them, running with them.
- I love when they wake up all happy and cheerful, with a huge smile on their faces.
- I love the weird foods that some of them like. My son Rain likes Reeses peanut butter cups with mint ice cream!
- I love the inventive games they come up with. They crack me up.
- I love watching movies with them, especially when I get to show them an older movie they’ve never seen, a movie I love and want them to love (recently, the Indiana Jones series, and before that, It’s a Wonderful Life).
- I love sharing my favorite books from childhood with them, and seeing them read those amazing books with fresh eyes.
- I love how their eyes light up when they get a treat.
- I love how my 15-year-old daughter, Chloe, is growing up into such a fun and incredible adult! I have talks with her that are as good as with any adult friend, and better than most.
- I love how talented they are — you should hear my daughter Maia sing, or Justin play the guitar, or Chloe rock on her electric guitar, or Rain do anything athletic.
- I love how the world is new to them. Things I take for granted are a new adventure to them.
- I love how full of questions they are — they can really stump me, and I know a lot!
- I love how little things can become such wonderful traditions with them, and how they love those little traditions. Things like naming our “Highs and Lows” for the day, or our little rituals for our family meetings.
Gosh, I could do this all day, but my kids await me. I think I’m in love with being a father.