Am I doing this right? Fatherhood. Parenting. This whole raising another person to be responsible and caring and kind and productive. Some days I feel like I’m nailing it, like every decision was solid and every outcome was as expected, but those days are scarce. Those days seem hidden in a forest of days that fall short; days where my daughter cries to get her way before breakfast, or days where I vow to help her write the letter M perfectly only to give up by the way she holds the crayon. Days where she asks so many questions that I can’t answer them fast enough or accurately enough so I feel like I’m letting her down. I feel like a failure if I don’t respond to her every request. If I don’t teach her, someone else will, and who’s to say they will teach her correctly. Who’s to say I will?
Sometimes before I give in to sleep at night, I’ll run the day through my mind like a movie playing on the back of my eyelids. I’m not sure if I’m helping her reach her full potential, if I’m challenging her, if I’m aiding in helping her become the best person she can possibly be. I’m scared to ask her to wait for anything, so I answer her every call. I feel guilty if I spend any amount of time doing something else when I could be spending it with her.
I know a day will come where she won’t beg me to play with her or have a million stories she eagerly wants to share with me, so I soak in every detail of the time we have together. I store away the memories and document them whenever I can in fear of forgetting one; this way I have them to look back on when she realizes her old man isn’t the hero she once thought he was.
When that day comes, when she exchanges her dolls for heels and the cartoons she loves for movies she shouldn’t, I want her to know I tried my best. I want her to know I did what I could and often wished I could have done more.
I want her to forget the timeouts and the lectures and the long faces and remember the laughs and the advice and the abundant hugs. I want her to know all the books in the world couldn’t prepare someone for the reality of parenthood; for the moments when they wrap all their fingers around one of yours or when they say they love you, completely unprompted in a wet whisper or when they do something that reminds you so much of their mother, you realize why they were created in the first place – to let you know without a doubt, that for all the things you’ve potentially done wrong, once… once you did something right.