The definition of success, as a dad is a bit more than keeping your son out of jail and daughter off the pole, though both are very important goals.
The journey of becoming a father, of being a great dad is an endurance race, an ultra-marathon. Sometimes a pandora’s box or an intricate maze filled with countless twists and turns challenging your patience, determination and your will to succeed. My opinion, for what it’s worth is that fatherhood is a precious gift, sacred and divine. A gift of unmeasurable love, filling your soul with pure happiness.
The joys of fatherhood is sprinkled with frustration and self doubt. You will be tested. You will discover a level of stamina for which you did not know was possible. A willpower far beyond pulling all-nighters in college or working a fifteen hour day then catching a redeye to your next client meeting. A metamorphosis occurs. Something intense and powerful happens. Your core is stretched, flexed, molded, reshaped into a man, a father. We as fathers have all made mistakes and will make mistakes. Learn from those mistakes. Keep your eye on the preverbal prize. Be the best father you can. Make those difficult selfless decisions for the benefit of your kids. Being the dad comes without trophies, prizes or awards. There is no finish line. The gifts we get back might be a hug, a smile, a giggle, a kiss, maybe even a “Thanks Dad. Being a good father might come easy for some and challenging for others.
For me, the desire to be a dad surfaced during my college years. Yes, I know that’s hard to believe coming from a guy. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t some nerdy guy looking to get married and knock out a few kids before sampling the wondrous excess of coed college life. I did my best to experience life to its fullest, joining a fraternity, random road trips, spring breaks, serial dating and countless keg parties. Amongst the mayhem of collegiate self exploration the thought of being a dad would sneak through. Yes, totally and completely out of the norm for a typical college guy. Sometimes my daydreams would include images of teaching my son to fish, play ball, swim and catch worms. I would run after my daughter playing tag, teaching her to kick soccer balls and hit a softball. I would make sure each day to tell her she was smart, pretty and daddy will forever protect and love her. I of course never shared these sorts of thoughts with my buddies. Can you imagine sitting around the fraternity house in-between shotgunning beers saying, “Hey man wouldn’t it be great to have a couple of kids?” Social suicide. I survived weeks of hazing as a pledge and had no intention of revisiting that chapter. To this day my jaw tightens and my mouth fills with incredible amounts of saliva at the thought of malt liquor and ripe hardboiled eggs. No need for another round of “food groups that do not belong together, Ever!”
Fast forwarding to present day past the frat parties, sorority girls, my first job in New York, living in San Francisco, West Hollywood, getting married to a blonde blue-eyed midwest girl and settling down in her home town of St Louis. I have two beautiful children. My son is six and my daughter is three. Yes, I am the stereotypical proud father. Being the dad is all I expected and a whole lot more. The interesting part is the fact I am not married, at least not anymore. Funny how all those years daydreaming of being a dad I never dreamt, not for one second I would be a single father, the divorced dad. Every now and then you’re thrown a change-up just to keep you on your toes and boy was I caught off balance.
The joy of fatherhood has not diminished with divorce. Rather it is diluted due to the incredible challenge of knowing I will not be with my children each night. I must give up seconds, hours, days of their precious life. Without question the most difficult test I have ever endured is not being with my children daily. This is a pain far worse than any surgery, broken bone, cut or injury I have ever experienced. I continue to push onward and when in darkness I search for illumination. A light waiting just around the bend. There is always a smile, kiss or warm hug waiting for me, for the dad.
The journey continues.