I knew I was struggling to get my excitement level to where I thought it needed to be as I was preparing to become a father of two. And even though I allowed room to give myself some grace, it still bothered me that I wasn’t bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm for our baby girl’s arrival.
Was there something wrong with me and my approach this go ‘round? Had I changed that much in the nearly three years since I first became a dad? Was this par for the course?
I needed to talk to someone — preferably some guys who’d been in my shoes before.
Scrolling through my phone, I was pleasantly surprised at how many names I saw who fit the description of who and what I was looking for. And sure enough, of the few I reached out to, all of them assured me my struggle was common the second and even the third time around.
“You know things now that used to be unknown. There are not many mysteries with this one,” one friend told me. “But once the baby gets here, the joy is the same.”
That piece of advice, along with some other gems I received, has helped me as my wife and I are now less than 10 weeks away from our Christmas Day due date. I’ve accepted the fact I’m not less of a father because this pregnancy process doesn’t look the same as the first. I understand that, in many ways, the responsibilities I have as a parent of an exuberant toddler supersede the immediate feelings that come with the preparation of a newborn.
Community comes through
The value of community in fatherhood cannot be overstated. It corrects us when we’re wrong, lifts us when we’re down and advises us when we’re lost. It’s the shared experiences that make the fatherhood journey special.
That community doesn’t only exist among people you know, either. If I’m somewhere, and I see another dad struggling, the look we exchange lets him know I can relate. It’s something that only parents can understand. We understand that we can’t do this alone. Our village helps us raise our kids. As I’ve experienced, the support from my community has helped ease stress. It’s given me ideas on things I can do with my son that I hadn’t previously considered. It puts my mind at ease to know what I’m going through is not uncommon. I’m a better dad because of the support I receive from my village. My son and daughter will have an advantage in life because of the extended community that’s pouring into them through me.
I recognize my privilege. I’m fortunate to have friends who are parents and willing to lend advice. Some of those same friends were there for me when I was preparing to get married. Community is invaluable. In parenting and in life in general. If you have it, hold on to it. If you haven’t tapped into some form of community, find one as soon as you can. It will not only help your children, but it will help you become a better dad.