It might surprise you to know that I didn’t always […]
It might surprise you to know that I didn’t always want to be a dad. In fact, I was militantly opposed to it for a while. I’m up to my eyeballs in fatherhood now, so I sometimes forget the journey on which I’ve come. I was reminded of it recently, though, when I was going through some old files. I came across a questionnaire that I filled out during the pre-marital counseling my wife and I did. One of the questions asked how many kids I wanted to have. My answer: zero. I laughed when I saw that.
I was just beginning a master’s degree when I filled out that questionnaire. I had ambitions of becoming a life-long academic. I wanted to read books and write papers all day, every day, for the rest of my life. I wanted to publish, lecture, teach, travel, debate, etc.
Kids: Ain’t nobody got time for that!
My fundamental belief about children at the time was that they were a burden and an obstacle to personal fulfillment. This is a big problem in a culture where personal fulfillment is valued above all else. And I was sailing right along with this current of thought in our culture.
My wife and I enjoyed a few years of married bliss before we got the shock of our lives. The perpetually childless couple were about to become parents. I was in denial at first. The denial gave way to a reluctant acceptance of the reality that I was going to be a dad, despite all my wishes and efforts to avoid that fate.
As the baby bump got bigger, I thought, Well, I guess if I’m going to be a dad, then I should probably try not to suck at it. So, I started asking peers and mentors for advice. I was looking for information about how to handle the mechanics of fatherhood (e.g. budgeting for a family, how to change a diaper, etc.). But they would only talk for a minute or two about the mechanics and then launch into some gibberish about how fatherhood changes your heart and takes you to new heights of self-sacrifice … blah, blah, blah.
Then our first arrived, and I suddenly understood what they were talking about. Something happened in my heart that I didn’t expect. It was as if a switch clicked, and I suddenly wanted to give the rest of my life to the nurture, care and training of this precious little human. All other endeavors lost their luster. I was surprised to find that I loved being a dad.
What I’ve come to believe since then is that children are not an obstacle—but an opportunity. They are my magnum opus for creating a legacy and leaving a mark on this world. Furthermore, they have taught me that my previous notions of self-fulfillment were shallow. In fact, the point of life isn’t self-fulfillment at all, but fulfillment in something greater than myself. Now I see that our family is pursuing a mission and a vision that will live on longer than I will because it will pass along to my children and their children. Thank God I have them!