Fatherhood

To all the Dad’s and dads to be… I found it fitting that perhaps I share a few of my thoughts and opinions on Father’s Day this year. I’m only three years into the journey, and I’m sure I have plenty to grow, but I’ve decided to share anyway.

It’s been just over a year with a second child and it’s been wild AND rewarding. First things first, life with two is definitely not 1+1=2. There isn’t a real way to quantify the difference between one and two children. All I can say is, there is much more of it all – love, happiness, tears, frustrations, and an overall fluid dynamic in the household. For me, it’s been an instance of “no matter how much you prepare, you’re not ready” and each day is a new day. Kids at this age grow fast, change, and keep their parents on their toes. Often times, I feel that I’m teetering in between being too strict/lax, too passive/invasive, helicopter/hands off… it’s difficult to keep atop these little humans!

A few big things for me to reflect on today…

Communication. Being a human is hard, being at home 24/7 with my s/o has been harder. Trying to do all that with a 3 and 1 yo is exhausting. It’s like speaking three different languages at home while staying on top of my EQ game, which I clearly lack. The end of a long weekend, hangry kids, tired parents, and pent up frustrations can lead to everyone just needing their own space and quiet. But that’s not to say that I’m not learning and growing. I just need to remember to take a breath and try to imagine myself in everyone else’s shoes… and maybe we can all get through this just a little big easier.

Being a “girl dad”. It’s not favoritism, it’s just different. Maybe it’s experience from having a first, maybe it’s different personalities, maybe I’ve changed and grown… whatever it is, the experience with Emily has been different. Less worry, (a little bit) less stress between me and her mama, a few more moments to be cherished, and a different connection.

In the same way some people have to work and train to be better at sports, parenting requires time in and hands-on experience. Objectively, we spent much more time with Finley, but the time spent with Emily is different. A lot of it is filled with less fear and uneasiness. Expecting less and experiencing more. Worrying less and enjoying more. Who knows, maybe if we had another boy, it would’ve been the same outcome. I will say though, being surrounded by boy siblings and mostly boy cousins, it will be interesting watching this little girl grow up.

The first one. Work pays off. It’s been a journey and even a battle to “win” his love from mama. The pandemic + a very pregnant mama was a catalyst for our relationship. When Emily was born, I spent a number of weeks on pat leave, but mostly with Finley. We’d go on long walks, read books, play, etc… I was his primary. It was also exhausting and frustrating. Finley is a great kid and like all growing kids, will require his parents to keep up. He has big feelings, seeks attention now that our time is divided, and while he’s seemingly mature for his age, he’s still 3. Sometimes i forget that this constantly chatty, happy-go-lucky kid has big big feelings running through his mind and body and just needs a hug.

Reflections. Finally, what would a Father’s Day post be without mention of my own Fathers? Growing up, I had my dad (obviously) and my father-in-law at a young age. Both of these men were instrumental in my upbringing and both are very different. I learned both Chinese and American culture and experienced it in many forms. Food, cultural norms, communication, jobs, etc… couldn’t have been more different. I’ve been blessed to pick the best from each of them and learn from them on ways I would want to be different to my children. Add in my father-in-law, who’s a stark contrast to my other fathers… and it just gives me more food for thought. While I spent most of my childhood trying to model after them and my older brother, I now look back (and forward) to think more about which inputs will make the best output of me.

I am now a middle generation, between my own parents and children. Whatever it means to grow up, I think I’m there ;). It’s been good, taking a pause today to think of where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Thank you to all my parents, to Betty (who supports me in more ways than she can imagine) and to my children for keeping me so tired all the damn time… but damn you two are so adorable.

-Andrew

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