Crying in the middle of the night. The pungent smell of a fresh nappy. A lounge with toys everywhere. Vomit marks on my shoulder. A tired wife. Becoming a Dad has taken some getting used to.
In October last year, my wife gave birth to our first child (a son, thankfully, because I’m not sure I would have known what to do with a little girl), whom we named Ethan. Whilst there are certainly many challenges that came with being a Dad for the first time, these challenges have been far outweighed by the experience of raising this little life.
The first month was certainly the most difficult for us. The challenges of adjusting to a new sleeping schedule, figuring out how to look after this tiny person and re-arranging our lives around this new family member kept us on our toes. But shortly after that we settled into the groove of our new life and ever since, have loved getting to know our son. I got to see his first smile and to hear his first laugh. I saw the face he pulled when he first tasted broccoli (and I don’t blame him). I’ve seen him get excited and get frustrated. I’ve seen his good moods and his bad moods. And I’ve heard his first scrambled words, “Dada”. And in all of this I’ve realised just how influential I am in my son’s life. Right now, he depends on my influence for his basic needs. But soon, he’ll depend on it to learn about becoming a man.
I’ve learnt many things since Ethan was born – things about him, about parenting, about my wife and about myself. Foremost among these is this – “my greatest contribution in life may not be what I do, but who I raise”. For that reason, I’m going to be the best Dad that I know how to be to Ethan. I’m going get to know him. I’m going to teach him all I know. I’m going to make memories with him. And I’m going to make sure that he knows how much I love him. And it’s my hope that through this, he’ll one day grow up to be a man of character and of courage.