The last six years have gone by so fast! It is hard to believe that six years ago my wife and I had a baby girl that would change our lives. That “baby girl” is now six years old (Claire) and we have a two year old (Cecilia). Life is simply awesome. There have been challenges for sure. However, most of these challenges are insignificant compared to the blessings we have received from being parents.
I try to reflect on life as much as possible. We all know from experience that if you don’t pause and take time to reflect you let too much go by. Whether good or bad we need to process what life throws at us.
Here are six things that I have learned on this journey so far:
Just Let it Happen: Honestly, this is one I am not exactly comfortable, nor good at. If you have read any of my posts you know that I am a bit of a control freak and “letting things happen” is not necessarily part of my mission statement. Six years in I have learned that you just have to go with it sometimes. If the six year old decides to make you dinner you really shouldn’t blow up on her. Sure the kitchen walls are no longer the color you painted them, but it’s just paint…right? The two year old decided to potty train on her own and is super excited that 25% of her “deposit” made its way into the toilet. Maybe the other 75% will come out of the carpet…eventually.
No Perfect Moment: I’m still waiting for that perfect moment when I do something super fatherly that my children are transformed by and respond, “Daddy, you were right. You are so amazing!” What I have found over and over again is that every moment counts. My daughters will become great, and develop virtue moment by moment. So will I. Little by little we move in the right direction. All those little moments I chose to love, respect and not be overwhelmed by the minutia of parenthood will create a life filled with moments that when stringed together paint a beautiful story.
Speak Clearly. Pause. Repeat. Any Questions? My six year old tests my patience. Every. Single. Day. Often times my frustration is my own fault. I assume my daughter knows what cleaning up her mess means. I assume that she understands what eating all her food means. I assume she understands that quiet time literally means you don’t make a sound. We all have expectations for our children. This is a good thing. However, I have found I don’t always communicate this well. Six years in I am learning to be a better communicator. Speaking clearly and in simple terms is a must. Pausing to let the child process is a must. Having the child repeat the information back to you is a must. Asking them if they have any questions is a must. Get the point? Well…I don’t always get it and that leads to a frustrated child and father.
Waste Time with Your Children: This is something Pope Francis once said to fathers in one of his addresses. The whole idea was to understand that being with your kids doesn’t have to have an agenda. It doesn’t even have to be “productive”. Just be with them. The Popes statement has stuck with me and really has helped me to see time with my kids in a different light. The games my kids play are not always fun, they don’t always make sense and that is okay. What matters is that I just spend time with them.
Change in Priorities: It is no secret that having kid’s makes you look at things in different ways. This is necessary. Money for my wife and I has been one of the things that we are looking at in a different light. We made the decision before we had kids that we would not send them to public school. There are many reasons for that which I will not get into here. The point is that sending our kids to a school we have to pay for is hard. Money that we could use for paying off debt and other items goes towards our kid’s school. It is a worthwhile investment for sure! However, this investment changes the way we operate. Whatever your priorities are they require change. That change can sometimes be uncomfortable, but in the context of my kid’s current education it is well worth it. Claire has learned so much from being in a Montessori school. The learning and experiences she is having make this a solid, set in steel priority for us—no matter how much it hurts.
Traditions Matter: One of the things I dislike about our modern secular culture is the lack of adherence to traditions. There are so many amazing traditions both religious and non-religious that we seem to have just pushed aside. Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up in a household with traditions. This makes it difficult to pass or establish any with our kids. However, we have a few that we have implemented: celebrating the kids Saint Feast day, celebrating their baptism dates (and future dates they received their sacraments), praying as a family, Advent Tree, reading books before bed, and playing lots of board games. These are just some. Traditions anchor us. They are moments with meaning that remind us of who we are, where we have been and where we are going.
This list could be a lot longer. All in all these have been the six best years of my life. Lots of surprises, frustrations, laughs and some tears. All incredible.