I have learned a lot of lessons in the last seven years about being a father. Here is a bit about what it means to me to be a father.
To be a father: Forget anything you’ve learned about how you spend your time and energy.
Today, I spent about 40 minutes taking bikes out of the shed, hooking up the bike trailer, finding all the helmets, and getting everyone ready to go.
Then we went for a 20 minute bike ride during which we stopped for water four times. So to review: 40 minutes of prep time, 20 minutes of activity. This ratio governs pretty much how time works for me now. And that’s on a good day.
And if you don’t have kids and are wondering what it’s really like, here’s a quick drill you can try: before you leave the house, stand at the front door and yell, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.’ for 25 minutes. If your house is empty, even better because it has the same effect.
To be a father: Slow down.
When my son was first born, everything seemed like a rush, all day and all night. How often was my rushing around really necessary? It’s hard to say, but with the years that have passed, it is safe to say not that often.
I would find myself scrambling while I changed his diaper and his big brown eyes would be staring up at me. And I’d immediately stop. I would imagine that he would wonder what all the rushing was about and be very puzzled. Then I’d sing the opening lines from Simon & Garfunkel’s song 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy): “Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.” I would slow down and enjoy our time together.
The song serves as a great reminder to relax, breathe deep and enjoy the moment. It has been seven years since he was born, and as cliche as it sounds, it goes so fast. With two kids now, Simon and Garfunkel’s instructions are even more important to me.
To be a father: Remember ‘ricordati che e un film comic’.
After I watched Fredrico Fellini’s film 8 1/2, I read the wikipedia entry. On the first day of production Fellini placed the phrase ‘ricordati che e un film comico’ near the camera. The phrase translates loosely into “Remember, this is supposed to be a comedy’.
Being a married parent of two young kids and running our own business, there is no shortage of things to keep me serious day-to-day. For me, I like having a constant reminder to have fun and keep things light, especially when it comes to my family.
So I made a new home screen for my phone:
Every time I use my phone (read: a lot) I see it and try to remember that my life is supposed to be a comedy.
To be a father: Remember you’re a son too.
Last year, I took a trip with my dad. We haven’t lived in the same city in over a decade. Sure, we talk on the phone and email back-and-forth. When we visit, there is a lot of other family around and my dad wants to spend time with my kids, which is great. As great as family visits, phone calls and emails can be, I didn’t realize that we had gone a long time without a sustained conversation until we had a few days together.
I think a lot about being a father, but I realized that I haven’t really spent that much time thinking about being a son. And it’s important. Really important. The trip changed the dynamic between us forever. Our communication has been more open, we have a better understanding of what motivates each other. I tell him that I love him more often than I used to (not bad for a few rum-soaked days on a golf course).