I was at a tux fitting last weekend for my best friend. I’m his best man.
Afterward, we went to a restaurant with his father, his fianceé, her father, and another groomsman.
I’m in the middle of my cheddar ale soup and one of them says to me, “You’ve really taken to fatherhood.”
Then someone else says, “You’re a natural dad.”
“Wow! That’s so nice! Thanks for saying that.”
^^That’s what I didn’t say.
My whole life, I’ve struggled to take compliments.
Instead, I twist them into something else or respond in a way that ignores the statement altogether.
So I did say, “It all happened when Claire was born. I felt comfortable holding her because I knew I was going to have to hold her. And I knew that I would never hurt her, so I was confident that I wasn’t going to hold her wrong.”
That’s all true.
But I didn’t need to say it.
I could’ve just stuck with “thanks,” because I recognize that I’ve taken to fatherhood.
I love holding, hoisting, tickling, hugging, playing, and laughing with Claire.
When I get home from work and she’s up from her nap, I’ll feed her a jar of pureed, horrible-smelling chicken dinner and some puffs.
When she has a dirty diaper, I’ll change it. (Admittedly, Erin still changes most of them.)
When she’s playing contently by herself, I’ll play my guitar to give her a soundtrack. (Sometimes she tries to play too.)
And when she’s tired of playing on the floor and wants to look outside through a window, I’ll pick her up and point out things in our yard.
It’s all so much fun because it’s all so surprising to me.
When I thought about being a dad, I always pictured the big decisions I would make that would heavily impact the lives of my kids.
But I never thought about the days, months, and moments where I just get to be Claire’s dad.
Like when I buckle her into her carseat only to unbuckle her ten minutes later and then carry her around the hardware store.
Or when I place her on the white comforter and play a game I call “The Big, White Bed.” (Spoiler: It’s mostly just me saying “The big, white bed!” over and over while I rub her back to get her excited.)
But those days and months and moments are what makes me a father—not the big decisions.
And, happily, I’ve really taken to that.
I think you’re ready for your pipe and sippers, now.
What a beautiful way you have captured the heart of parenthood, Ian. Claire is a lucky girl!