Here’s How These 4 New Dads Feel About Fathering

new-fathers In honor of Father’s Day, I asked four new dads about their experiences. Here’s what they shared about the intimate moments, the game-changers, and the little things that make them glad to be fathering.

Related: Father-Focused Instagram Account Crushing Gender Stereotypes

fathering5Jacob, Wildlife Biologist
Father of Rowan, 5 months

On becoming a father:
My strongest memory of becoming a father was when I held Jennifer from behind the birthing stool as she delivered Rowan. When he came out he was covered in blood and vernix. Very cheesy, as the midwife said. I remember holding Jennifer so tight and hearing Rowan let out very soft grunt so I knew he was breathing and okay. That first family moment was so emotional and lovely.

How fatherhood has changed me:
My respect and love for my wife has grown tremendously. I think less about myself and more about my wife and boy.

Father-child bonding:
We have father-son shower time. We also love to go outside together on walks, hikes, camping, and birding trips. Whenever he is upset, going outside is almost always the answer. We also love to laugh together as I make silly sounds and faces.

Surprises of parenting:
I was surprised at how particular babies can be. Rowan sometimes wants to be held, “but not THAT way!” Rocking in the swing is no good. Rocking in Jennifer’s or my arms, very good or vice versa.
How your partner helps you parent:
When I get home from work, Jennifer always lets me take the wee and hold him for as long as I want. Sometimes at dinner I will have him on my leg and she will offer to hold him while I eat but I usually decline. She knows that I have been missing the little fella all day, and just want to interact with him for a while. Jennifer also suggests that we do things together like wading in a river, hiking, or lying on a blanket in the grass where we can get out of the house and have new experiences together.
An ‘aha!’ moment in fathering:
I really got it when I was making Filipino stir fry with one hand and holding a baby (away from the food and stove top) with the other. I was singing Rowan some songs and thought, “I’m doing iiiiiiit!” It was a good moment.

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Superman
Father of Seay and Wyatt ages 2 & 1, expecting #3

On becoming a father:
I remember the day I found out I was going to be a father and that feeling of shock and excitement, but also fear and anticipation. My world shook and slowly over the next two years with the addition of one and finding out just recently that we are pregnant with another that I slowly learned about myself, my spouse, and understanding unconditional love. The world to this day has still not stopped shaking as I constantly feel like the terrain under my feet is changing around me.
How fatherhood has changed me:

I don’t know about other fathers out there, but sometimes when I say that I am still in shock, I stop and I think back on growing up and I always saw myself being a father. Now that I am here sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself.
That steady rumble which has slowly migrated to my chest has me looking forward to leaving my work day and coming home. A resounding roar grumbling in my rib cage that has changed the very way I look at the world and every relationship I have ever had. None quite so much as with my wife. I love seeing her as a mother and being so impressed with her and in awe of her daily as she takes care of our children and our home. I know she feels that rumble too, because I know that they have changed the way she sees the world as well.
Surprises of parenting:
I am 28 years old, and I promise you I never thought I would get so excited over another human being bringing me his shoes or telling me, “bless you” when I sneezed.

Father-child bonding:

Watching [my sons] grow every single month is one of the most exciting things. If only I had a dollar every time I excitedly exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! This is the first time he is…” fill in the blank.
The other day I was watching wrestling (a guilty pleasure of mine) and my son started dancing to the entrance music of a wrestler I like and I started cracking up laughing. He began emulating the moves the wrestler did as he walked to the ring to the point where he tried to do a headstand.
Just today my oldest was helping my youngest ride his favorite toy, a rocking frog. They have become best friends with each other as well as with mommy and even with me, and I never understood what it even meant to have your entire life changed.

An ‘aha!’ moment in fathering:
I remember one night when my wife and I were talking about money (as you do) and we were stressed. The second mouth to feed and the long term ramifications on our finances felt… crushing. We were discussing paying off our debt as well as where we were living, and let’s just say we were stressed. I walked into the room where my sons had just woken up and their smiles lit up the room. I don’t just mean a candle light; no, He may as well have just taken the sun and placed it in that room. Once again, things changed for me and the way I saw everything, because through the midst of all of the stress, all of the hot dogs and ramen, all of the days we passed on doing fun things, he still smiled and the stresses didn’t reach him yet, and suddenly I felt like I could handle everything we were dealing with at the time.
This happened time and time again. It felt like each time the stresses of the world were piling up and depression dared to rear its ugly head, something new my sons would do would come along and remind me why I do everything I do. Through first steps, emergency room trips, first nightmares, first words, learning new animal noises, watching wrestling and practicing the moves on each other, playing with a new toy for the first time, learning my favorite superhero (Superman) and telling me “Daddy is superman”…I realized that everything I did on the face of this planet would be to make sure that those kids always knew they were so loved. I found my purpose and to be honest I don’t really believe in destiny, but I can tell you I think for me this was the closest thing there could ever be to that.

fathering6

Jason, Consultant
Father of an 11 month old daughter

On becoming a father
The night I helped birth my daughter…there was a deep connection with my wife in one of the most intimate moment of our lives.  I  had the privilege of delivering my daughter with midwife assistance.  The awe of the fullness of my responsibilities settled in over the next week.  I was entrusted by my daughter to care for her before she could care for herself.  To walk with her for the decades to come through the ups and downs with the promise of standing by her and sharing what I know, yet not doing for her.  For sharing what I have learned with the knowledge that, while I am very important person in her life, I am not the only one nor will I always be the most important.  It is humbling.

How fatherhood has changed me
It has softened me and hardened me at the same time.  Softer in that I have more emotions than I thought and it has given me more patience than I thought.  It has hardened me because I have less tolerance for wasted time.  Every moment with my daughter and wife are precious.  “It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a lot of healthy marriages to make a village” is a favorite quote of mine.  It reminds me that the relationship with my wife is important as she will be with me long after my daughter has found her husband.  It also reinforces the importance of connections with others and that internet research is a poor substitute for the fabric of personal relationships with friends and family.

Father-child bonding
I connect with her by being there and spending time with her.  What I do is less important than connecting.  I ask her lots of open ended questions, help explain the world around her and generally just share positiveness with her.

Surprises of parenting
Nothing can fully prepare you for what you are about to embark upon, and you are more prepared than you know.
That and the heaviest object in the world is the 13 lb infant peacefully asleep on your chest.
How your partner helps you parent
She encourages me to be an active part of raising our daughter and to share what I have to offer.  She encourages me to be me and to try.  Being a father is natural, awkward and sometimes both at the same time.  Like any other skill it takes practice.  She reminds me to not be so serious and encourages me–I really appreciate that.  The importance of maintaining the connection with my wife cannot be understated.
 An ‘aha!’ moment in fathering
Late one night when she was only a few weeks old I was cradling her in my arms.  I had been pacing with her quietly humming and she was cuddled and warm in my arms, let out a deep happy sigh and just hung heavy and warm over my arm.  It was a humbling, human moment to realize I literally helped create her and would shape her.  That and the moment when, at 10 months, she reached up for me to pick her up and gave me an strong unprompted hug.
Read Jason’s blog Conscious Fathering.

fathering4Student Life Counselor
Father of a 2-year old daughter

On becoming a father:
My strongest memory is the day my daughter was born. Watching my wife give birth and to see my daughter for the first time was one of the best moments in my life.

How fatherhood has changed me:
My responsibility changed immediately. I have to think about every decision I make now because it’s not just about me anymore.

Father-child bonding:
I spend time with her everyday. From the time I wake up to the time I go to work. Whether its reading, playing with toys, watching tv, etc.

How your partner helps you parent:
Just watching her and how she interacts with our daughter on a daily basis. She takes the good with the bad and it doesn’t effect the way she is parenting. Its a joy to watch her in action with our daughter. It makes my job that much easier just sitting back and learning some of the things she is doing
 An ‘aha!’ moment in fathering:
I don’t have a specific time. But anytime my wife is at work and I have my daughter it makes me feel like a dad. When I have to run errands and it’s just the two of us I know that I will have my hands full but I love every minute of it!
Happy Father’s Day, Dads!

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