Why don't we talk more about fatherhood?
We talk a lot about how motherhood changes everything for us—our values, our career ambitions, the likelihood that on any given day you’ll find us in leggings and yesterday’s t-shirt (110%). We don’t, however, talk a lot about how fatherhood changes our husbands.
In honor of Father’s Day, this week on the blog I’m publishing a special interview with my husband. He gets honest about how fatherhood has changed him and our marriage, whether there is such a thing as “dad guilt”, how he really feels about dealing with poop.
Cheers to the dads out there every day showing us how to be better moms.
What has it been like becoming a dad?
It’s the greatest thing in the world. It’s something I didn’t see coming because I was older when we met and had pretty much accepted that it wasn’t going to happen for me, and I was okay with that. But it’s been an amazing surprise and what it has added to my life is immeasurable.
I liken it to the way people talk about how you can’t imagine God, you can’t scale it, it’s like that. It’s this amazing fullness you have in your heart, mind and spirit.
Did you like it right away?
No. I didn’t have that instant attachment I’m sure some people have. He was born and he was there, but it was like we got a puppy or something. I mean, he was cute but that was about it right away.
How long was it before you felt the love you have now?
It developed over time. The more we were together, and the more I saw him responding to everything I was doing for him, it hit me what a huge part of his life I was—like his whole world, other than you. I remember there was a day when he was really little and he was sick. He slept for half the day on my shoulder and that was amazing. I felt like, wow, you’re here because of us and you need me more than anything in the world right now.
What’s been the biggest surprise about being a dad?
That I’m totally okay with poop. Before he was born, the thought of changing a dirty diaper seemed like it would be the worst thing in the world. It turns out you don’t care. Poop, whatever. All the poop in the world, who cares? I’ve been covered with spit up, I’ve been peed on; there’s nothing gross about it when they’re yours.
What’s been the hardest part?
The time. The sacrifice of personal time, personal space, of yourself, generally. Other things, like work or relaxing or doing things around the house have to take a back seat. It’s hard, but you just do it and you’re glad to do it.
You have a pretty demanding job and have always been career-focused. Have your priorities shifted?
For sure. Work is still important but it’s not the same. Before him I had very specific ideas about where I wanted my career to go and it would have been hard to accept anything less. I’m still ambitious, but my lens on life has widened. I can take what I have and be happy with that. I still would like to achieve the things I’ve envisioned but it’s not my primary goal anymore. My primary goal now is being a great dad.
I know as a working mom I think a lot about how to balance it all. Do you feel the stress of balancing work and being a great dad?
Yes absolutely. It’s a daily thing you manage. You stay up later; you figure it out. I know you have all these same things you’re dealing with. I always wish I was doing more both at work and at home. What’s helped me is to think about whether the thing I’m worried about doing more of on has an impact on his life. So often it doesn’t, and that makes it less interesting to me, less of a priority and easier to let go of.
Mom guilt is a big thing. Do you ever feel dad guilt?
Sure. I definitely feel guilt about being at work as much as I am. Like when I have to travel and don’t want to miss things. I feel guilty about not being around more sometimes, but honestly no matter how much I’m home there’s always some guilt there. He probably doesn’t notice the difference, but I do.
Do you talk about dad guilt with other dads?
Some. Probably not as much as you guys do with mom guilt, and I probably don’t talk about it with as many people. I think I talk more generally about parenting. I like to learn from other people how they manage their time, how they make it work with career and family. It’s different for everyone but I like comparing notes and seeing what I can learn.
Do you ever feel like anyone is judging your dad skills?
No. I never feel like that—or maybe I’m too dumb to pick up on it, which I’m perfectly fine with. If someone wanted to give me some dad shame, I wouldn’t even know what that would sound like.
How has becoming a dad changed our relationship?
It puts a lot of stress on a relationship because of the balancing act with your time, my time, and getting things done. At the same time, it allows you to see great qualities in your spouse that maybe you wouldn’t see otherwise, and that feels really good. Seeing how they love your child gives you a different perspective on who they are. It makes you realize (hopefully) you made a good choice. At least it did for me.
What goals do you have for our son?
Other than financial independence as soon as possible? No, I wish that he has compassion and a passion for life. I want him to treat people well and to be excited about every day.
I wish that people love him and he’s sweet to people. Does he have compassion, and a passion for life. I want him to be excited every day and treat people well.
How do you want him to think about you?
I hope the thinks his dad is the greatest person in the world (other than you). I hope he loves me a lot and that he looks forward to spending time with me. I hope that whenever he has the opportunity to do something with me, that nine times out of ten, he wants to. If he wants to spend time with me that means I’ve done a lot of other things right. It’s everything you need to know.
This has been such a great perspective, thank you so much for sharing it with me. Anything else you want to add about being a dad?
Just that it’s the greatest thing in the world. Of course, it helps that we have the greatest child in the world.
Spoken like a true dad.
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