I am lucky enough to have grown up with a great father. One that loves me well, that reminded me how proud he was of me all of the time, and reminded me also that I was beautiful while growing up. Because of him, I'm a better, more confident person today. And he still loves me the same, even though I'm 27 years old and no longer living under his roof. So when Nick and I became parents this past fall, the bar was set high. I wasn't ever really comparing Nick to my dad as our little daughter came into our life, but I can't pretend that the image of a hard working dad that always made time to play with his kids and affirm them wasn't in my head as what I wanted for my child, too.
When Gemma came into the world, father became a new part of Nick's identity instantaneously. The few weeks leading up to her arrival, we anticipated her every minute, and I could tell Nick was going to be the best dad, but he exceeded my expectations immediately as I watched his heart melt into a puddle the first moments he held her, the way he cried with me when she got a shot in the hospital, and the way he adored her completely. It was evident that he was wrapped around her finger, and that only grew.
As we learned to be parents, in all of the hard, sleepless times and the joyful moments, I watched the man that I thought I new well turn into someone different, someone softer, and someone with a new focus.
Let me explain. My husband is a person with passions. He is a leader. He does a lot of things, and he does whatever he can to do them all well. He has spent a lot of his time and effort over the past few years on coaching and teaching, and that meant a lot of time out of the home. Don't get me wrong, we spent endless amounts of time together- but he was motivated to grow as a professional, (which no doubt is a great quality) and I figured that would always be the case.
Slowly, over time, Nick's goals shifted. He has done everything he can over the past few months to do what is best for us, his girls, and he has succeeded. And his new focus is, most of all, to be home with his family.
I can't explain how much that means to me and how rare I feel this is. His choices and diligence in loving Gemma and me reminds me daily how lucky we are to have him. It might sound dramatic, but I believe the love he has for Gemma and me is a love that will change the world...and I'll explain that in a minute.
So because I know I've got a gem of a man as my husband and as the dad for our baby girl, here are a few things I have observed that I figured I'd share with new dads, dads in general, and families this father's day.
If you're wondering how to be a dad (or a parent in general) that changes the world, here's what I've observed in Nick, and he's pretty much already an expert:
1. Don't act tough. Show emotions. Feel all the things. Let the great big love of parenthood soften your heart in a way that nothing else can. Don't fight it. A man that can show emotions raises kids that know it's okay to do the same.
2. Actually be tough. Sleepless nights. A really anxious, postpartum wife. Nights of a screaming baby that can't be soothed. Big decisions to be made about pretty much everything. Being a new dad can be tough- so do it and do it well. And encourage the new mom- she needs it.
3. Spend endless amounts of time playing, tickling, and kissing your new baby. Don't act like other things are more important- they aren't. This time is precious and you'll regret it if you miss it.
4. Do everything you can to do what is best for your family. Even if it means deciding to move across states without any certain jobs. And make all of the necessary steps to secure a job and provide for your family. Pray a lot, too.
5. Love your family by spending more time with them. Don't put work, hobbies, or anything else before them. Be careful about how much time you're spending out of the home.
I've watched Nick re evaluate how he spends his time, define his values, and pursue becoming the best father and husband possible this past year. He has taken huge leaps of faith, and God has provided big time through his diligence and obedience. He's driven back and forth across states for interviews countless times over the span of one month. And he's secured an amazing teaching job.
But most of all, he has showed his love for his family over and over by deciding to say no to things that he loves, because he loves his family more. That doesn't mean he is throwing away passions, but instead being faithful to his most important commitment, and fitting his passions in where they fit best.
I know it's common for men to want to make a difference, climb the ladder, and be faithful to commitments outside of the home so much that their commitments at home fall to the wayside. I think the key to making a difference and changing the world is to make sure the commitments at home come first, always. And I'm so thankful I have a husband who does that.
I know I'm so lucky to have him, and Gemma is, too. Happy Father's Day to an amazing husband and a fantastic father!