There are so many valuable lessons I want to teach my son—how to be polite, a provider, a man of God. But now that I’m 8 months into being a father, I never thought I would be the one learning and growing. Here are five lessons I’ve learned from being a dad.
- Sacrifice and Unselfishness
When in college I pledged a fraternity, and during our pledge period one of our focal lessons was learning the importance of sacrifice and unselfishness. Admittedly, up until that point in life, the extent of my sacrifice was merely babysitting my brothers on a weekend that I wanted to hang out with friends, or saving all of my money so that I could spend it on clothes. Just when I thought I knew sacrifice and unselfishness, I became a father. Being a parent added an entirely new meaning. As the psalmist wrote, my life is not my own. Similar to an aggressive dog, if not addressed, parenting will sniff out your fear and gobble it alive.
- Shoulda Coulda Woulda Means Nothing
There’s no question, being a parent is one of the hardest tasks. There is little appreciation shown, until years upon years later, and at that point your child is likely one foot out the door headed to college, or about to have a child of their own. Years ago I used to get so upset about my mothers parenting style and I knew I would do things differently. Now that I have my own child I realize that parenting is more demanding than I thought. Not to say that I thought is was simple, being the oldest sibling, the idea of parenting was rather daunting. Nonetheless, I’ve quickly realized that as a parent you have to take each day in stride, reset, and do your best—even when your best is all you have.
- It Gets Better
I don’t have enough digits on my body to count how many times parents have told me “It gets better, just keep going.” Apparently there is something to the three month mark that changes babies outlooks on life. And even after that moment they grow to become even more tolerable. But whoever said that having a cute child makes you want more is a lie. I will admit, SJ being cute has helped “things get better”. Now, as for as second baby, TBD.
- Blessing and Burdens are Cousins
After hearing T.D. Jakes’ sermon on “Blessings come with Burdens,” I know that miracles and misery are related. You don’t get all good times without bad times. You don’t get all good things without bad things.”
It’s easy and expected to post all the smiles and blessings, on today’s social media platforms, but rarely do we see the day-to-day rigor of parenting. Jesus told Mary that she was blessed and highly favored just before He informed her of what any normal person would label as insane news. #AlternativeFacts Very seldom if at all do we publicly express the burden of the blessing. It is very difficult, yet IF done correctly, the reward will come.
- All Things Are a Matter of Choice
When I was younger I vowed to myself that I would be a better father to my children than my father was to me. And then life happened. Though not the same, Deena and I found out we were expecting before we were ready. However I knew I didn’t want a broken home, nor did I want fatherless children, and though I pursued my wife and was having discussion about spending our lives together, it all happened so fast. And suddenly I saw life through my father’s eyes. In the snap of a finger time rewound and I was immediately my father 30 something years ago. But the decision was mine. Would I repeat his footsteps and leave his child, or would I recreate my own? Somehow every life experience zeroed into one moment in time, one decision that would forever change my life. And in that moment I realized to be more humble, and more forgiving in every life experience. More importantly, it would take far more effort to earn my merit stripes as a man.