It's been just over seven months that we've had Amélie in our lives. What an amazing experience. It's so gratifying in so many ways. She brightens up my day every time she smiles.
When you're having a kid, some people give you a courtesy heads-up on some of the challenges parenthood presents. Others paint a rosy picture of how amazing it is to have a child and how wonderful the entire experience is.
There's no question about the fact that, once your child is born, your life as you knew it is over. The impact of parenthood doesn't quite set in until the baby is out of mom and in your hands. The responsibility of parenthood doesn't set in until even later than that – for me, it was when we started researching college savings options.
Probably the most stressful part of becoming a parent is finding the rhythm of parenting. Everyone has some preconceived (no pun intended) notions of what it's going to be like when you're a parent. You'd like to think that you won't make the same mistakes your parents made, and that you're going to be a "cool" mom or dad.
The reality is, you have no idea what kind of parent you're going to be until you hear your child cry. You may remain cool under pressure, or freak out by the mere thought of your child in pain.
I think, having been at this for a short while now, the most important thing to keep in mind is to just be patient. Patient with your new baby. Patient with your spouse. Patient with your family – who will never stop giving you advise about how to raise your baby.
One topic that most people warned me about was the sleepless (or just restless – if you're lucky) nights. Once it's 3AM and you or your spouse have been up for hours, all you want is to sleep. – understanding, compassion, patience – it all goes out the window. A woman whom I work with, named Alex, gave me some sage advice when it comes to this topic. Anything said between the hours of 9PM and 9AM doesn't count – these are definitely some words to live by.
That said, there are so many wonderful things about being a parent that I didn't appreciate until I was placed in the situation. Whenever Amélie figures out something new for the first time – I often don't realize it, but I end up with this goofy looking smile on my face, along with a sense of pride to boot.
There are days when I'm leaving for work in the morning and Alin is giving Amélie her breakfast. On these days, Amélie sees me walking out the door and becomes a little distraught. She turns her head from side to side, slams her hand on the high chair, as if demanding my return. I can already see that this is just a precursor to her screaming "DAADDDDYYY!! Don't go!" It's both gratifying and heartbreaking, all at the same time.
Another joy of parenthood is that you now get one more day a year where you receive a gift. For my very first Father's Day, Alin spoiled me with two gifts that I've always wanted. The first, was a flying lesson at the near by San Carlos Airport. This lesson gives you the basics of flight, and you get an hour and a half "discovery flight" with an instructor around the bay area.
The other gift was a week's worth of boxing lessons – addressed from my daughter. You'd think, flying and boxing – not exactly the kind of activities you'd want a father to be partaking in. Nevertheless, my family loves me and doesn't want me to change who I am, at least not entirely.
Anyway, I suppose that's enough for now.