Being a Daddy

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes you have enjoyed APtly Said’s celebration of fathers this week. This final post wraps up this series on “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections,” June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us!

TejaI always wanted to be a Daddy…I just never knew how much it would change me.

Naturally, most parents think their child is beautiful, and even with a little mushed face and purple foot, I felt the same. I was especially proud of the fact that while my son laid under a heating lamp in the hospital, he looked more developed than the other babies.

I called the first year of parenthood the most rewarding “punishment” I ever went through. Not that I would have changed it for the world, but I believe most parents would understand what I mean.

Strangely enough, nature has a way of making us endure some form of amnesia. After two years and 10 months, I found myself being a glutton for “punishment” again. Sure, why not? I hardly remembered the endless sleepless nights from my previous go-around. Then again, my memories since first becoming a parent are a patchwork of fragments, mostly focused on the glee of being a parent.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but suddenly I learned a new fear I will never lose till I am gone — in that moment, I knew I would always wish for the best and fear the worst for this individual indefinitely.

Dad HayIt seems like in a flash, my world that I had grown up in was no longer predominantly focused on me. My focus was now this baby.

My mind raced with questions…

I was overjoyed to be a Daddy. I cried at the sight of him. But I wondered How do you immediately love someone or something that you have no history with?  and Should I feel guilty that here was this new creature that I loved, yet didn’t really communicate with beyond its needs? I wondered who he would be.

At the same time, I found myself watching every breath while he slept and I would peer into the crib if it seemed too silent. I was beyond gentle as if this new entity was in fact an ancient artifact as fragile as parchment.

Could I be a good Daddy?

Two months after his birth, I was making some sounds and he looked at me and smiled. In that moment of connection, my heart melted. But this did not stop my internal thoughts, nor my imagination thinking of hypotheticals. I wanted to be an affectionate Daddy, but was there such thing as too much affection? Should Mommy be more affectionate than Daddy? I decided to throw caution to the wind, as I felt that my child should grow up knowing he was deeply loved through action and not just words of affection.

There are parents who try to essentially have their children be what they did not become or be just like them. I believe that is confining. More and more, I find the true gift we can give our children growing up as a parent is to allow them to discover their own path and support their positive choices.

I’ve learned that I am not perfect and that I will make mistakes, but I am patient. I’m willing to learn as I go, as much as I hope my teaching sinks in. I know teaching isn’t just preaching, but that setting an example and following through with my word carries more impact. The greatest gifts I can give my 2 boys are love, guidance, affection, and my attentive time. The gift has been given both ways as I’ve gained a greater happiness with myself.

Despite all the trials or tribulations we endure, being a parent can be so fulfilling. The first step is accepting ourselves and loving ourselves as the imperfect individuals we are — share that with your children. In this way, we will not seek the material things in life to find happiness, as we already have it in our hearts.

Being a parent has made me so happy and whole. I have become more forgiving, more accepting, more insightful, and above all, more loving. In all of the things I’ve done and accomplished, my family is my greatest creation and treasure — it is the one I am most proud of.

Transformation of being a father

Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) continues with APtly Said’s celebration of fathers through the theme of “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections,” June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us!

Father Daughter HandSometimes I start thinking about the man I used to be before having kids, and I always get so amazed at how much I have changed during this short period of time.

Considering that I am 33 years old, being a father for 3 years means that I have much more non-father time of life experience. However, I can tell with certainty that these last 3 years have been the most transformative years of my life.

When my first son arrived to this world, I didn’t know much about fatherhood — just like most other fresh fathers. Fatherhood invited me to become aware of my own sensitivity — and I said yes to it. I jumped into this giant pool of uncertainties called fatherhood, and while I was swimming there, I got in touch with my own sensitivity.

I was observing my child’s needs and feelings, and I started responding to them — which allowed me to build a loving bond with my son. In the meantime, I was learning so much about myself and my own feelings. I stopped hiding them and started exploring them, listening to myself and getting to explore and know a whole new person.

It didn’t stop there!

I realized this transformation was also affecting my relationships with other people, mainly because I was finally seeing their feelings as well. I have grown to understand what empathy is and that completely changed how I relate to my partner, friends, family, and everybody around me.

A couple years later, my second son was born — just to remind me that love isn’t something you split, but something that gets multiplied. It’s a reminder that one of the things I love the most about being a father is how such small and young beings can teach you the most valuable lessons about life.

So, if you ask me what being a father means to me, I would say it’s jumping into a life experience that will transform you for the better — into a more sensible human being.

Thiago Queiroz, father of 2 boys and an API Leader for API Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, offers his support for parents with his YouTube videos about Attachment Parenting, including positive discipline, Nonviolent Communication, and fatherhood.

In this video, Thiago discusses temper tantrums and how parents help their children deal with strong emotions.

 

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/Adrian,Canada

How has being a dad changed me?

Editor’s note: Welcome to Attachment Parenting International‘s celebration of fathers! For this Father’s Day, APtly Said Assistant Editor Effie Morchi has put together a moving series of essays with the theme of “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections” for June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us! 

Brett BevellI come from a story, as we all do. Some of it is real, some imagined or interpreted, and part of it remains a mystery as well. Never did I imagine in examining my own story that I would so deeply relish the experience of being a dad.

My son Dylan was born 14 months ago, and though certainly there have been times that are challenging — including many sleepless nights — his presence in my life is the best thing ever to happen to me.

Why is this so?

In part, it is the depth of love I feel for him, whether he is acting cute, sleeping, or in need of a diaper change. The love is there and the same regardless, an infinite expression of the life force of love pouring through me. And a human heart cannot help but be changed when the love pouring through it is that grand. That love has softened me and made me more compassionate to others, including myself.

Beyond this new infinite wave of love, there is more to the profound and positive change of being a dad. I also feel more of a sense of purpose. As a writer, healer and artist, I have always been driven and tend to thrive on meeting goals, deadlines, seeing an accomplishment come into full bloom.

Father Son LightBut this is a different kind of purpose, a through line of presence that flows through me having nothing to do with a goal, and simply wanting a wonderful future for my child, hoping his dreams come to fruition — whether or not mine ever do.

Most importantly perhaps is a new definition of responsibility. I now feel responsible for the welfare of another human, which is quite daunting, yet also very fulfilling. I notice how it impacts him when I am in a challenged mood, as well as when I am happy and joyful.

This has heightened my own consciousness of taking responsibility for how my emotional state impacts others. I have always done that on some level, since as an energy healer, that is part of my life’s work. Yet, now even the smallest nuances of emotion are highlighted in my consciousness. I do my best to embrace all of who I am, and also be aware how my own emotional energy impacts my son.

I would never trade being a dad for anything.

The greatest gift of life that I have known so far is being a parent. And the amazing thing is that had anyone asked me before my son’s birth how I would feel about being a dad, I never would have imagined it would be this wonderful, including the challenges. It has made me a new human, one that is more aware, more alive — even when exhausted — and more open-hearted to the experiences of others.

I never noticed strollers and little ones that much before. Now, it is the first thing I notice when outside the home, as I am a member of this new and amazing club called father!

 

Photo Credit (2nd photo): FreeImages.com/Vivek Chugh 

Jealousy, It’s Crawling All Over You

My mom used to sing a song to me as a child every time I got jealous. It started, “Jealousy, it’s crawling all over you. There goes your eyeballs…”
 

I’m jealous of my husband and his connection to our three year old. Sometimes I feel like a third wheel (I know it is normal; I Googled it). Nonetheless, I feel like a jerk for feeling jealous of my husband for having such an incredible bond with our energetic, spirited toddler. Three years old is such a fun age! Benjamin can express himself. He can open doors. He can lock doors. He can climb on top of a plastic organizer box and turn the light on in the living room. And oh yeah, he can work the Kindle Fire better than I can. And as I write this, I hear him say to his daddy, “I have your keys. I want to go in your car,” as keys jangle and more toddler murmurs come out. Have you ever been locked out of your car or home? Either you can’t find your car keys or you locked yourself out of your home. First thoughts are typically to turn to family and friends for help or a set of spare keys, but this may not work out. Next steps are to contact a Strong Hold Locksmiths. A locksmith can perform numerous jobs like changing of the locks and taking care of the dead bolts, but not many people are aware that they also know about automobile repairs and installing the safes in your house for storing the valuable possessions like cash and jewelry. A skilled locksmith will eliminate your sufferings in a short span of time, whether it includes problem giving keys or locks. You should be assured if you have a professional locksmith by your side. There are many kinds of locksmiths like car locksmith and safe locksmith; you can choose them as per your needs and according to the demand of the situation.

Benjamin is very attached to his father.

My husband and son

I was on the receiving end of this affection when I was breastfeeding. Mama was what consoled him. And all I wanted was a little time for myself. Just a minute to go to the bathroom alone. Now, I could go to the next town over and use the restroom at the mall and perhaps my son would not notice I was gone, as long as Daddy was there.

Now he reaches for Daddy, sits on Daddy’s lap, plays with Daddy, wants to be with Daddy all the time. He is a daddy’s boy. (Now Ben and Daddy are playing spaceships. Daddy with Buzz Light Year and the Rocketship and Ben with the Star Wars X-Wing and Luke Skywalker. They are engaged in their own vocabulary of play, zooming around the galaxy. In fact, I was referred to as the Mommy Nebula, as my husband hid Buzz’s spaceship behind me. Ben came giggling along with Luke Skywalker in hand.

Most of the time, I sit back and grin from this bond they share. This language they only understand, played so easily and organically. I try to play like Daddy does and my play missions seem forced and well, dumb. Daddy’s play language is filled with intricate expressions only a grown up boy could articulate. Mostly, I am grateful, full, and happy about it. It is just those tiny (sometimes big) moments when I get completely rejected. “I don’t like you. Go away. I want Daddy.” Ouch, punch to the mom gut.

I thought this might be because I recently went back to work. I started a part-time job at the end of March. My brother-in-law (Uncle Tim) and in-laws (Grammy and Pa) watch Ben while I am at work. Three weeks before I started working, I tapered the lengths of my excursions out of the house. Ben would cry hysterically for me when I left him in the house with my brother-in-law. I felt so bad leaving him and so elated once I was gone. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. My first few trips were to the library where I basked in the silence and worked on research for a book.

Left to right: My husband (Daddy), my son (Benjamin) and brother-in-law (Uncle Tim)

Then I would miss him after an hour. I started with one hour, then two, and then three, increasing the time every day until I reached the hours I would be gone when I returned to work part-time. My brother-in-law said Ben would cry for a little bit and then he would be fine. Eventually he didn’t cry anymore.

When we first started this process, I only wished that the crying would stop. Then it did, and I kind of (OK — completely) wished he would miss me that much again.

Eventually, after many monologues of self-doubt and insecurity about my choices of returning to work, I realized that this was just part of the process. Just part of parenting. It. just. was. It was normal for him to feel comfortable with my brother-in-law and my in-laws. He was in good hands and loving arms. But still, I wanted them to be my arms.

This parenthood thing throws me for loops at every turn, just when I think I have it figured out — the reset button is hit. Learn all over again.

***

Ben says, “Pick me up Daddy. Pick me up.” He settles in up on his daddy’s hip with a view from top of the world.

I marvel at this sometimes. The way Ben looks when he is up on his daddy’s hip, long three-year-old legs dangling. Ben beams; he is proud. The two of them are symbiotic. Their hearts wrapped around each other, visible from the outside.

Attached at the hip, father and son

As a mother, my heart is a vine and it reaches with invisible twines that wrap around my son’s. I feel this tug at each turn. Ben though, is sitting on top of his daddy’s shoulders, snipping the vine, letting go in some ways. I coil the string, and wrap it safely up for the next time he will need me. He does. He will. I will wait.

In the meantime, I have a little more free time. I should be writing instead of watching, with my green eyes. In fact, I had time after work this past Friday to stop and gaze at the flowers. There is a field of pink, red, and white poppies near my exit for work. I stopped at took some photos. This is something I would not have been able to do had I been in the car with my son, as it was near the highway.

 

Poppy field near exit ramp off highway (I pass this everyday on my way to work)
It’s all about the angle you look at things…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stopping to gaze at the flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mostly, my eyes are aglow with love and adoration for both my boys. I may envy their magic, but I appreciate the warmth of the fire from the sidelines.

Watching the magic, enjoying the muse

What else can I do? This is a normal stage for children and I appreciate my son has such a loving daddy. And I appreciate that I have such a loving husband. I’m lucky.

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