Notes on Fatherhood

By Leo Babauta

Today is Father’s Day here on Guam, and my dad is lying on my couch taking a nap. My half-siblings are all over my house playing with my six kids (they’re all around the same age), the sounds of laughter and guitar and computer games floating all over the place. My two beautiful sisters, Katrina and Ana, are on the way over with their kids.

My two-year-old daughter is on the floor next to me, playing some game I cannot fathom, laughing up at me and talking a storm (I can only understand about half her words).

It’s days like these when the joys of being a father all kind of come together.

And with all this love around me, why am I writing this post? Simply because I had to share my joy with some of my favorite people in the world — you guys.

Fatherhood can be a lot of work. OK, who am I kidding — it’s always a lot of work, a whole heckuva lotta work. There’s staying up late nights singing your baby to sleep, changing diapers all day, cleaning up spitup and throwup and all kinds of gross messes, giving baths and brushing teeth and washing dishes and always, always picking up toys, and helping with homework and driving them to soccer practice and putting together their toys on Christmas and birthdays and hosting birthday sleepovers and taking sick ones to the doctors and injured ones to the emergency room and bandaging boo-boos and hugging when things don’t go right and lecturing when they misbehave and dealing with tantrums and potty training them and cleaning up when they don’t quite make it to the potty.

It’s a lotta work.

And yet, there is no doubt that all that trouble is the merest of specks in the overall picture of fatherhood. There’s no doubt that it’s all worth it, because the wonders of fatherhood far far far outweigh the troubles.

The joys of fatherhood? Try watching your son’s soccer game, when he works his butt off all game long and then dribbles his way across the field through 8 players and scores on a long hard kick, and then look at the exhilaration and pride on his face as he celebrates afterward. Try listening to your daughter’s guitar recital after she’s practiced for weeks, fearing that she’ll mess up but believing that she’ll do great, and then swelling up with pride when she plays perfectly (well, she said there was a mistake but I didn’t hear it). Try showing off your kids’ project on medieval times to their grandparents, a project they spent weeks creating after reading about and researching the topic extensively. You’ll burst with pride.

Try listening to your 4-year-old trying to tell you a joke, stumbling to get it out, and then coming through brilliantly and amazing you with his surprisingly advanced sense of humor. Or listening to your two-year-old daughter spew out sentence after sentence, new vocabulary at all, after only saying a few words for her first 18 months. Kids never cease to amaze you.

How do I love fatherhood? Let me count the ways … actually, let me just list a few, briefly, as I want to get back to my family. :)

Gosh, I could do this all day, but my kids await me. I think I’m in love with being a father.