Fatherhood

Fatherhood

It’s hard for me to fathom that this is the 15th Father’s Day that I’ve experienced as a dad. Brian was born roughly two weeks after Father’s Day 1999, so he was nearly a year old when I officially celebrated my first. And by then, it would be just five months later when JJ would come along.

I was talking about parenthood with a friend Saturday on a long drive home from San Francisco after watching the Giants lose in pathetic fashion to the Colorado Rockies (I’m shaking my fist at you Angel Pagan). For some reason, I was reminded of the time that I set a major goal for myself in high school. In high school, goal-setting was on the silly side in comparison to the crazy goal I set. It was about making sports teams or getting a certain cumulative GPA. Except I do remember talking to some classmates whose only goal was to graduate. Really? Didn’t everyone graduate? But that’s what kept them up at night.

But this goal was a bit different and I’m not exactly sure why I set it. I was either asked by a teacher or maybe had a bit of an epiphany about my future. This wasn’t about a career or where I wanted to go. I set a goal that by the age of 21, I’d be married. I’d still be in college. Who gets married during their second semester of their junior year in college? “Let me take this final here right quick so I can go get married”. But then, I also said that by 23, I wanted to be a dad. Who wants to be a dad at that age? I don’t know why exactly, but I had a strong urge to be a young father.

My parents had me before they were 23 (mom was 22 and dad was 21), so I imagine that was part of the impetus. I remember a buddy one time telling me that it sucked having parents who were old and how embarrassed he was to bring them to class because they looked more like grandparents than parents. I obviously never felt that way as my parents were the youngest of the parental crew. I’ve heard Brian tell me the same thing. He likes that Carol and I are younger than everyone else.

While I slacked on the married-by-21 deal, I was right on the money with my other goal. I’d graduate college and five weeks later, Brian would be born. I was exactly 23 years and one month old when he was born. Just a pup. But I wasn’t scared and instead was oddly confident. I knew it would be second nature for me. Now, the marriage thing – that was hard. But the dad thing has never been hard.

I’m thankful to have children who keep me sharp and on my toes, but neither has been hard to raise. Even during divorce, the hard part wasn’t necessarily about being a single dad. The hard part was being single and having free time on my hands. But you adapt and I did and that is now part of the game.

All dads learn lessons from being a dad. You learn things about yourself that was previously untapped knowledge. I didn’t know that I could juggle so many things at one time effectively until I had a toddler and an infant to watch at the same time. Thankfully, JJ liked to hang out in my arms while I bounced on the Swiss ball and watched basketball. Thankfully, Brian was an entertaining big brother. But having kids never stopped me from doing anything I ever wanted. I could be dad and whatever else I wanted to be.

When I was working in radio at KNBR, having a kid helped me decide that radio was too slow moving and I would eventually get bored. Low and behold, just about everyone who was working there 15 years ago is still working there today. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies. But I soon segued to doing podcasts with friends and I got my broadcasting fix. I’ve done hundreds of them. I loved writing before I had kids and I still enjoy it today. I’ve written more words and articles and posts as a dad than I ever wrote for fun before.

Having kids has kept me focused. While I’ve definitely made decisions when it came toward dating and relationships that were affected because of having kids, they were all for the better. I didn’t want to bring anyone around them that wasn’t going to be a big part of my life. It made me stay focused on what was important, which as this point is them first and foremost, family and friends, and my job.

People ask me if I live my dreams through them. I’m at just about every one of their basketball games. I’ve coached them in almost all of their sports. I’m taking photos and shooting video. We’ve gone to their band performances. I’ve chaperoned them both of many field trips including long (and I mean long) science camps. But the answer is no. I never stopped playing until I didn’t want to play anymore. I do every thing that I want. So my dreams have been fulfilled on that end. I just enjoy watching them, helping them grow into the players they want to be, and seeing them evolve as people (which is the best of all).

Yes, sports help people evolve. It’s the team (just like your team at your job). It’s quick decision making. It’s listening to directions and command. It’s being coachable. It’s learning how to handle disappointment as well as success. It’s not quitting. I enjoy watching them deal with all of that and I don’t deal with it for them. If I need to protect them, I will. I like seeing how they react to things that might be difficult.

Fatherhood has made me a better person. I have small anxiety about what happens when they go off to college or have families of their own because they are the biggest part of my life. But as fatherhood has taught me, you simply adapt.

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