This is a brag post. Let's just start there. From the moment I open my daughter's bedroom door to helicopter her out of her crib (grabbing her by the armpits, elevating her and twirling her around) in the morning until the time I get to rub her back with her head on my shoulder as we say our bedtime prayers, I can't help smiling at how awesome she is. She is the sweetest thing, but I didn't always feel that way.
It feels weird to say, but the more she can communicate with me and share her feelings, needs and wants, the more I can relate to her. I guess I don't have very good nurturing instincts required for newborns that just sleep, eat and poop with no communication. It's just a tough time being a dad in those first few months. But now, 17 months in, I feel like I'm hitting a stride.
I love being a super fun dad: making my daughter laugh, giggle and nearly lose her lunch from the aerial stunts we work on every day. I'm pretty sure it's what I was called to do as her father. That and tell her how much I love her about a billion times a day. As we play, or as I watch her play, I just can't help but tell her how much I love her. Usually grinning ear to ear, with a bit of giggle in my voice.
Kids simply amaze me. I think it's often the reflection of how much she's grown that gets to me. Seeing her learn to walk, first moving with a Frankenstein-like stammer to being able to trot with her hands at her side, no longer needing them for balance. To hear her attempt to repeat words and sign "thank you," "please" and "more" makes me a proud parent of a girl with manners. It kind of makes me feel like we're doing something right.
Even when times are tough, when we're in public and she's not getting her way, or when she's trying to tell us something we can't begin to comprehend and she's frustrated, it's still cute. Of course, diffusing the situation becomes Priority One at that point, but we always manage to get through. I'm learning a lot about being a parent of a toddler. Actually, we're making most of it up as we go, but still learning a lot.
- I'm learning that I can't control every situation: Like when all four points of her molar are through but she's working on pushing the rest of her tooth through the gum in the middle. She's in pain. She can't help but whine...
- Rolling with the punches is essential to sanity: It doesn't do any good to fight sometimes. Sometimes I just have to be OK with picking up a million pieces of Kleenex off the floor when she's done "playing" with them.
- Giving in is not always a bad thing: She has her own way of doing things. They don't always make sense to me right away, but eventually I catch on to what she's trying to do and play along.
There are certainly times I want to bang my head against the wall with frustration of not being able to help my daughter, but those moments pale in comparison to the good times, happy times, laughter, smiles and tears of joy. Being a parent is the most challenging and rewarding thing I've ever done.