November 4, 2018
The delivery room was dim, save for the light radiating from the television set on the wall, and the heart monitor behind the hospital bed. A soft constant murmur emanating from the television filled the air, disrupted every 3-5 minutes by the sound of a deep breath, and the pitter patter of a mother pacing the room in search of relief.
In the corner sat anxiety – in search of usefulness, finding it only by tracking the amount of time that elapsed between the winces on his wife’s face.
For nine months a baby boy came alive in the minds of his parents. Some days he shared the same bold facial features as his mother – big brown eyes with long eye lashes. He’d be talkative, inquisitive, and playful like his father. Other days the roles were reversed. He resembled his father, with dark hair and wrinkles on the sides of his eyes when he smiled, whilst remaining reserved and observant – the temperament of his mother.
But nine months came and went, and the time for conjecture was over. On November 4, 2018, a weary mother and anxious father would finally meet their greatest treasure.
Judah Emmanuel Gallinar, weighing 7 Ib’s 14 oz., would finally be born.
Worries & Questions
I never worried about material necessities for Judah. From the day Bri and I found out we were expecting, I knew our baby would have everything they need. My mind was instead occupied by the intangibles of being a father. I sought answers and assurances to tough questions, like “will I be a good dad”, “how do I love him well”, “is it frowned upon to let a toddler watch Friends and The Office” – you know, the hard questions every parent wrestles with.
More recently I find myself asking a different question, “what kind of man do I want Judah to be?”.
Instantly my mind soars with a slew of character traits in response. “I want Judah to be bold, and courageous”. “I want him to be loving and empathetic”. “I want Judah to be understanding, and slow to anger”. “I want him to be a man of conviction, aspiration, and discipline”.
And right on cue, comes the followup – “why?“.
“Why these particular attributes”, I ask myself.
Enter – the hardest part about being a dad, so far.
The Hardest Part
The epiphany is humbling. Judah is a mirror. I look into his eyes and see not the man I want him to become – but the man I’m not entirely. It’s easy to sit back and envision the life I’d want for my son. I can easily rattle-off hundreds of admirable qualities I’d like for him to possess. But all of this envisioning is worthless if I as a father don’t first posses the traits I’d like to impose upon my son.
In a way, contemplating the man I want Judah to become is an exercise in self reflection; as the man I want him to become, is the man I currently want to be myself.
Thus, the hardest part about being a dad isn’t the sleepless nights (although a solid 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep would be more than welcomed). The hardest part about being a dad isn’t even the frustrations in not knowing why my baby boy is crying at times.
The hardest part about about being a dad – so far, is coming to the realization that I can’t ask (nor expect) my son to be anything I’m not.
Be The Person
I almost didn’t write this blog post. Personally I thought it may have been a bit too bleak for a first post of the year – much less a first post about Judah. Fortunately, a close friend of mine gave me some perspective.
This post is a call to action – and not just for fathers.
This is a call to be the person you’d desire others to be; for how can we rightfully place expectations (or standards for that matter) on anyone when we fail to meet them ourselves?
If you desire love and empathy – then be loving and empathetic. If you want others to be understanding and slow to anger – then be understanding and slow to anger. If you wish others to be people of conviction, aspiration, and discipline – then have convictions, aspirations, and discipline.
All in all, whether in fatherhood or not, I believe we live best with ourselves and those around us when we first meet the expectations we project on others.
For more thoughts on the benefits of always asking yourself “why”, click here
Photo credit for featured image: Joanna Sue Photography.