Harper just turned 6 months last August 1st. Gen and I joke that we’ve just been “regularized” as parents. I feel it’s actually half true, as much like in a probationary period in employment, we’ve been learning new things every day.
So what exactly have I learned since?
First, on the matter of empathy, the last six months have been both easier and harder for me in a sense.
Harder, because Harper can’t actually tell us what she wants. It takes a lot of sensing the cues to figure it out. Easier, because you know that what she needs is just how she feels and that it’s not necessarily your fault. That’s a clear headway towards actually thinking about what she needs and not feel any need to excuse myself for my shortcomings.
Of course, providing what she needs takes a bit of sacrifice. One of the most intense times we’ve faced so far was when we had to bring Harper to the emergency room at 2AM. She had caught a bad cold and had a fever of nearly 39 degrees. Fortunately, things turned out fine in the end.
Times like that, we just need to give up some of our own wants and needs a little bit to give her a little more.
The last six months also gave me a chance to think more about how I motivate myself. Considering my 4R framework, I should start with my reason. Plain and simple, my reason is love and that desire to make a good life for Harper. That’s powerful motivation and impossible to disregard.
Routine hasn’t been a problem. We’re fortunate that Harper has a relatively consistent clock and we rarely (though still occasionally do) get caught by surprise. We’ve been able to build a pretty solid routine around hers, and I actually feel much healthier for it.
As for responsibility, mine lies towards Harper and Gen, though I have to also feel accountable to everyone who loves Harper – her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and everyone else who has been a part of her life. Funny thing is, Gen and I sometimes even feel accountable to her pediatrician. We always gleam when doctor says she’s doing far well beyond her age. It seems silly thinking about it, but that accountability really does help us to keep trying to do better.
The reward? Limitless. Every laugh and smile I get from her, every milestone she achieves, every time she looks at me with happy eyes – all of it is worth all the hard work.
As with any regularization, we ask the question “Is the job a good fit?” In this case? Definitely! Despite and, in part, due to all the challenges, it’s been a super fun job being a dad. I’m looking forward to everything else there is to learn and experience.