My husband’s birthday always falls near Father’s Day. Last year, he turned forty and I asked him to guest post about Forty and Fatherhood. Since it was such a popular post among readers, I asked if he wanted to do another guest post for his birthday today. For many of our friends and family, they get to see a different side of my husband through his writing voice. So this year, he decided to reflect on new life as a dad of two and what is making his heart heavy.
I was about 15 years old and at what I thought was the peak of my physical strength when I got knocked to my feet by a gaunt football coach in his 60s doing simple blocking drill demonstrations. I was in pads, so i didn’t sustain any major injuries other than my wounded pride of being embarrassed before my teammates by an old man’s chop block. That was my first real introduction to concept we fondly refer to as “old man strength.” I suspect it’s from carrying kids and years of physical labor that hardens the sinews of our musculature as we age giving us a brute strength that belies our age and unassuming physical appearance.
As I enter my 3rd year of fatherhood, I continue to grow both mentally and physically stronger as meet the daily challenges of raising two very dependent boys. My body has adapted to 5 interrupted hours of daily sleep (my recent sleep deprivation related accident on the 495 beltway notwithstanding). I am perfectly okay eating dinner at 9 no matter how famished I am because Chase dominates my every waking moment once I get home from work (I’m his playmate..and I can’t wait for carter to take over that responsibility). I’ve even adapted to not working out as much. Marathon on the calendar in 4 weeks? No problem. A few late night long runs and 4 sessions of intense hill training did the trick. More important has been my gradual development of a mental toughness that by far exceeds my slight physical augmentation as an older man and dad. There are just some things that you don’t do once you become a dad. The role matures even the most immature individuals and engenders its own wisdom that comes with greater responsibilities and experience. The mental and physical adaptation process has been made a bit easier over the past 2 months thanks to help of my in-laws who are giving us a massive helping hand with the kids.
I close by saying that I am very thankful for being blessed with a supportive wife, growing and thriving family and the support we continue to get from our extended family. No matter how sleep deprived or exasperated I am I can never take the blessings of fatherhood for granted. I pray for the children of famed celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, as well as countless others (roughly 150 people per day take their own lives in America) who are left to pick up the pieces following the tragic loss of their loved ones. My heart goes out to the families that are left bewildered and heartbroken by our current administration’s hardball immoral campaign against the children of poor immigrants and asylum seekers. On this Father’s Day let us take time to reflect on fathers who are in much more difficult circumstances than ourselves and challenge ourselves to do more to alleviate the suffering of those who are lonely, those who are poor and those who would benefit from even the smallest act of grace and kindness.