Parents go through distinct stages.
I remember the “I haven’t slept in nine days and it would be nice to feel human and not smell like poop and sour milk” stage. Ahh, bliss.
I remember the “pump them full of liquids and let them go buck naked so we can rush off to the potty in a moment’s notice” stage too. No bliss there, until the stage was over. And I mean, OVER. Our kids caught on quickly (thank God in heaven) but it was still a bit sketchy at times.
Then there was the “half of our family can handle this hike but I end up carrying our smallest so long my arms cramp up and it’s time to walk a bit yourself because you can do it buddy” stage. We’re starting to have fun by this time. And I develop enormous biceps.
The next stage: “Where did my biceps go but I’m happy that we’re all more self sufficient and isn’t this fun but please don’t spill your drink for the third time this meal” stage. By this time my oldest can throw a ball, hit a ball, even catch a ball, and my youngest can pronounce the word ball. I’m in heaven.
The next stage: “Who hit the fast forward button because life is moving at warp speed and I can’t believe how tall you’re all getting and don’t lose your mittens” stage.
And the current stage: “Man alive this is fun and I love you so much and I can really dig this daddy deal and my kids are the best and the hikes are getting more serious and balls are flying everywhere but mostly right at me but I can dodge them with joy because God is so good” stage. Nice.
We had a couple over for supper the other day, a family with kids our kids’ ages. Many a sleepover swap has taken place over the past two years. And the mom says, “Brad, you should hear how Noah (my oldest, ball throwing, pre-pubescent, we’ve already had ‘the talk’ warrior-son) talks about you. It’s like, God is up here, and then there’s his dad.” Apparently I’m the strongest, coolest, most talented, daring, fun, caring dad on the planet. To him. For now. As it should be (He didn’t mention handsome, come to think of it. If he waits too long, handsome will be out of the picture and I’ll have to live with ‘distinguished.’)
I tucked Noah in for bed the other day and he said our relationship reminded him of a scene from Meet the Robinsons (love that movie) where one of the characters said something like “I never dreamed that my dad would become my best friend.” And my heart melted into sentimental daddy goo all over his bed. I’m glad he didn’t have the presence of mind to ask me for a raise in his allowance in that moment. At this stage my “be careful, son!” moments have morphed into, “You can do it, son!” moments. My daughter is my princess. No really, she believes it. My youngest is my little dude, and the way he looks at me says, “We adore each other, don’t we, dad?”
Yes, other times I get the “I’m dead meat, aren’t I, dad” look from any one of my monkeys. Or the one I get when I look in the mirror: “I wish I were a better father.” But today?
I love dadhood.