It’s said that the world is full of second chances, however; it’s also said you never get a second chance to make a first impression. These two sayings pretty much sum up how I feel I have fared over the last five years and two kids worth of parenting.
When my daughter was born last year, she was my second chance. She was a breath of fresh air. She was, and has continued to be, everything I dreamed it would be when my son was born five years ago…and then subsequently wasn’t. She is amazing. She showed me I was, in fact, capable of doing everything I felt like I failed at the first time around; that I am good parent. And yes, this may sound melodramatic, but I feel like she saved me in a way.
I have talked at length about how difficult of a time I had within the first year after my son was born. What I haven’t really talked about is how I’ve felt since. To be honest, I still have a hard time when I look back over that year, and even feel like I was a father at all. I feel like my son deserved so much better of me. And that’s why it felt really raw when a memory photo from four years ago popped up on Facebook this week.
My wife made a book of all the Facebook posts, jokes, and other comments I made on social about about parenting. To this day it is still one of my most favorite gifts I have ever received. But, it’s also a reminder that what we show to the world, and how we really feel are a lot of the time vastly different. While I love this book, there is not a single page that has anything said about alone I felt, or how I cried myself to sleep many nights because I felt like a complete failure. But, to be fair, it’s because I didn’t tell anyone outside of my wife either.
That’s why when talks about having another baby came up, my wife and I swore we would do things differently this time around. We recognized we missed so many opportunities to just be in the moment with our son, to experience him for who he is, and to just be in the moment with each other as parents and partners.
Everything was different right from almost the moment our baby girl arrived. She and my wife and had an instant bond after birth. She was an easy baby from the jump. She seemed so happy and content.
After about a month, the stress starting creeping in. My wife and I noticed that old patterns from how we acted with our son were slowly happening again. But we remembered how we promised each other how we would be different this time. We remembered, and we followed through. That meant no bottling up our emotions, no taking out our stress on each other, and making sure that if we felt like we needed help, we would reach out for it no matter uncomfortable it made us feel. We remembered all this by looking at the sweet little face of our new baby, and knowing that she deserves the best her parents can offer.
Because of my daughter I have spent the last ten months working very hard on myself. I have reached out, asked for help, and am now seeing a psychiatrist regularly to help manage my depression and anxiety. This is not something I’m sure I would be doing had she not been born, and who knows where my marriage would be, or even worse, where my relationship with my son would be.
So yes, I feel like my daughter saved me. She saved me from making a bad first impression for a second time. And I just want to say #ThanksBaby for that, and for providing me with a second chance.
And to my first baby, who is not so much a baby anymore, but will always be my baby boy…I want to thank you to. I want to say #ThanksBaby for being such an awesome son. Even though we had a rough go that first year, you don’t seem to hold it against me. I think it’s because of all that love you have inside you. You’re such a loving and forgiving soul; you just want to see everyone happy, and I love that about you. Don’t ever change kiddo; the world needs more people like you.
To both my babies: #ThanksBaby for giving the best gift I could ever ask for on this Father’s Day – the opportunity to be your dad.
I’m thankful for fatherhood because every day I’m lucky enough to be dad to these two amazing kiddos. I’m also thankful for fatherhood because it means I get to work with amazing companies like Pampers who see dads as a valuable part of children’s lives. Check out the awesome video below celebrating fatherhood.