Becoming a father was probably the biggest single event of my life. It was also the one that I was most unprepared for. And it definitely ranks up there as one of the hardest things I have ever done. Coming up to the event there was no shortage of people telling me that my life is going to change, people try to explain it to you but you just shrug it off. Yeah, I know I won’t go out as much, won’t be able to just think of myself. I saw all these warnings in a self centred selfish manner. The changes I was expecting were based on sacrificing, time, leisure interests, money, my wife. All things to do with me – all things that were hard in one sort of way but kind of missing the point.
|“The Most Difficult Job In The World”
So why is it so hard? What could be worse than those warnings about losing your life as you know it? Its tough to explain but the change arises from the constant self doubt. The constant self examination and focus on how good a parent you are being. Every decision I make now has an impact on two other people. Two other people who still look to me with a kind of trusting awe. A confidence that I know what I am doing, that it is a given that I understand parenting – I am of course ‘The Daddy’. Nothing can be further from the truth. Every decision (well most at least) carry the nagging doubt of whether you are doing this right. Will a decision now reoccur in their minds in thirty years time? Am I really making the best decisions for them all the time.
Of course you can only do your best. And actually, your best is always good enough. But you want to be perfect. You start to remember every telling off, every comment that your dad made to you – however small. You stop remembering the rest – the background of love and guidance that create what you are now. Tiny events come back to me every day now, when I was told off for something, when my mum or dad made a flippant comment to me. I know my kids will get to the same and it’s odd to know that the tiniest comments or decisions may come back to stick in their minds in the future.
Having said that, I love it. It’s the best job in the world. (Yes even better than Project Management – although there are similarities!) It drives my thoughts and my emotions pretty much all the time. Good times with the kids leaves you on a high. The tough times really hit you. But to see them grow up and start to form their own personalities, knowing that they are (hopefully not too much but) partially shaped by you and the way that you have approached the role is amazing.
To see things you value reflected through their eyes – with their own individual take on life matching their experiences to your core values is great to watch. Finding that narrow path between gentle guidance and letting them find their own way is taxing but the rewards are massive. Seeing your children develop and start to get a sense of humour, an individual personality and even the ‘attitude’ makes you realise how difficult it is to shape themselves in the modern world. All you can do is set an example, relate to them and understand that to develop we all need to make mistakes. To make a mistake and change your behaviour because of it creates the ultimate learning experience.
Your kids, more than anyone else provide an unconditional two way love. They ‘arrive’ with that trust built in or in my case looking to trust someone who would offer them love in return. They assume that you understand what you are doing. They are confused when you admit that you’ve made a mistake, that you don’t have the answers all the time. But through thick and thin, through the tantrums, the good times and the tough ones, at the base level their is always that bond between you. One that ultimately can never really be broken
It’s hard but the rewards are amazing. It has changed my life in a way that is impossible to explain. It goes so fast and throughout all the self doubt, throughout all the tough bits, through the sacrifices that we must make to succeed, I need to remember to savour the memories and remember that overall to do the best you can is always the only way forward.