A letter to new Dads
Becoming a parent was one of the highlights of my life. Diane and I had two children but might have had three if we had started earlier. We loved the whole experience and enjoyed every stage. Well, maybe not the whole teenage thing, that wasn’t so much fun. But overall, it’s been a great journey.
Now I’m on the eve of grandparenthood! Woo hoo! Both of my daughters are pregnant and are having daughters in 2017. I wanted to welcome one of my son-in-law’s into the New Dad’s club. So I sent him a book for expectant Dads with the following letter. I wanted to share it with new fathers but I also wanted to give prospective grandparents some ideas about welcoming their children and in-laws into the society of Moms and Dads.
Welcome to the soon-to-be-Dad’s club! And then, one day in April, you will join the new father’s club. As an older member of the club, it’s my job to welcome you. It’s a journey, a primitive mystery, and there is an amazing connection that you can feel to all the generations of fathers who brought you to this day. Like music, you have to be open to hear the rhythms, the drum beats, and the bass. It’s all there if you listen carefully.
I remember my sojourn in the expectant Dad’s choir. I was scared. I didn’t have the greatest father—he loved me, that I knew, but he was distant and removed—very involved in himself. That’s just the way he was. I wanted to be a different kind of father. I knew what I didn’t want to be, but I wasn’t sure what kind of father I did want to be.
I was worried about how having a baby would affect my relationship with Diane. What would happen? Would she remember me at all? She seemed so connected to her pregnancy and the growing baby inside of her.
I was worried about money. How would we manage with Diane working less? I didn’t make much money in those days. I was so nervous; I got a massage every week for her whole pregnancy (even though I was worried about money)!
There’s a lot to think about. It’s an amazing experience—forever. Being a Dad filled my heart with pride, joy, and love like I never felt before. It still does. When I behold my daughters I am filled with all three of those emotions---every time.
I know that at the moment, all of this may feel a little abstract, distant, and hard to really comprehend. That’s the way it is for us men—we don’t have the apparatus for carrying this young one around. So it seems a little weird. Or at least it did to me.
You are going to be a great father. I can see that. You have everything you need (and more) to escort this child into the 21st century, to teach her your ways, and to introduce her to everything and everyone that you love. Just take it day by day. Don’t look too far into the future. Savor every moment of your daughter’s childhood, drink in the entire experience, show up for everything that’s important, and learn from her. She will teach you how to be the father you want to be, that you aspire to be, that you hope to be.
I made a ton of mistakes—this I know. But guess what—I did a good enough job because your wife turned out to be one amazing woman. But you already know that. Wait until you see her give birth! You will be filled with wonder and amazement at what your wife can do.
Welcome to the club!
Your father-in-law, Paul