Just before I became a dad, I received a lot of advice and many predictions from family, friends and, frankly, everyone who saw my pregnant wife and I together. Most were predictable: You’ll be tired all the time. You’ll learn to sleep standing up. You’ll be doing laundry 24/7. The best comment I got was this one: Becoming a dad opens a new chamber in your heart that you didn’t know existed.
That says it all, doesn’t it?
There are a handful of times in life when you feel your heart expand. I remember when I met Elena, and that first date started our journey of a life together. That was incredible. But for true heart-expanding moments, there are two for me: When Erin (pictured, right) was born and, almost three years later, when Emily (left) was born.
There’s just nothing that can prepare you for becoming a dad and the love you feel for your children. Yes, it’s tiring in the beginning. And yes, in those early days I fell asleep in the middle of conversations with people, and probably standing up at some point. And I do remember our washing machine running at 2 a.m. on a weeknight. But it’s all part of the fun.
I remember the first words each of the girls spoke, and I remember their first steps. I remember how their little hugs felt every time I’d see them, and I remember taking them to the beach, to the zoo and to CPK for the first time.
I remember teaching them how to play catch with a softball, how to dribble a soccer ball, how to hit a tennis ball, throw a Frisbee and how to put their heads under water in our pool.
All of that grew into the girls excelling at their sports, and me coaching them – always with their permission – until my coaching days were done and I gladly transitioned to the bleachers and joined the rest of the cheering parents.
To this day, two of my favorite things to do with our girls are to go to the beach and play Frisbee and boogey board, and to play tennis, which is an activity on almost every family vacation.
We did homework together, we read each night and eventually studied for the SAT and ACT. Along the way, I taught them to drive and then we bought them their cars.
Every step I take as a parent brings me more pride and a big smile. There’s nothing like seeing your child grow, discover who they are and become responsible and independent. That’s a big part of what I feel is my responsibility as a dad, and every one of those accomplishments takes me back to that feeling of a new chamber opening in my heart.
I’ll feel that again throughout this month as we head toward Father’s Day. I hope all dads enjoy that feeling, too.