Ava is turning one this weekend and there is one question that is at the forefront of my mind. Where the hell did the time go?
It turns out that being a dad was a lot more involved and hectic than I ever imagined. I knew it would be challenging, but man, oy vey! Balancing my career, family and just keeping up with things seems to get more difficult by the day. As you accomplish one thing, three more things get added to the “to-do” list. It’s a bitch, but it is a life I wouldn’t change for anything in the world.
Looking back over the past year is like looking back on a rollercoaster ride. It went fast. There were lots of peaks and valleys. I felt sick through some parts of it and people were vomiting. Though, it was also one of the most exhilarating experiences I ever had, and I want to do it again for some reason.
I have really been reflecting these past few weeks leading up to Ava’s first birthday. In doing so, I have realized that there are three important developments that I can take away from my first year of being a dad.
#1: Ava has made me realize things about life and the human condition that I never even thought about or could comprehend prior to her arrival.
Simply put…I love her so damn much. The connection you make with your children is unmistakable, unshakable and unbreakable. She can so easily make me happy. Just being in her presence puts me at ease. Her laugh is my favorite sound in the world. Her smile is a close second. Ava makes me feel important.
Being a father transforms you. When she arrived, I knew that any foolishness about me had to end. I needed to set an example for her. An example of what to expect out of the other gender. An example of how to deal with hardships and be strong. An example of how to treat others. I am still working on all of these too by the way.
It’s an amazing feeling valuing the life of someone else over your own. I can easily and truthfully say I would give my life to save hers. No doubt about it.
#2: Michelle has hit a whole new level of awesomeness.
Just when I thought I couldn’t love her any more than I already did, she went and had a baby. Mom-Michelle is just the bee’s knees. She is the butter to my bread. The peanut butter to my jelly. The cream in my Oreo. The giggle in my Jell-O.
Seeing her with Ava just knocks me out. She just does all the right things and makes it look easy, though I know it isn’t. I can’t tell you how good it feels knowing that with Michelle as her mommy, Ava will always be in good shape and life will be that much easier for her.
Seeing what a good mommy she is has made me love her infinitely more. I am so lucky to have a woman like her in my life. She just brings so much to the table. Now that we have Ava, Michelle and I have a new bond for life. We will always be connected through her, an unbreakable connection. That is family.
#3: I love being a dad.
Life is harder. I shouldn’t say it that way, but it is. There are new challenges on a daily basis, hell, almost an hourly basis. Money spends quicker. Nice things don’t stay nice. Sacrifices get made. What you want means nothing, it’s secondary. It’s tough. Real tough. There is no training or field manual that can help you. We consider Ava to be an easy baby, and she is hard as nails.
That being said, life is grand. I wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in Fort Knox or all the chocolate in Hershey, Pa. I am without a doubt a happier and more fulfilled person.
Things happen. They come up. They break down. They arise. They escalade. They get out of hand. They break loose. They blind side you. They are a pain in the ass.
But you know what? They come and go. They work themselves out. They have solutions. They aren’t the end of the world. They aren’t as bad as they seem. They are fixable. They are replaceable. They are what they are. And no matter what, I will always have my girls. Life happens, but Michelle and Ava will always be there for me. The love and support they give me is endless.
Oh, and the good times. They are the best. They can’t be touched at all by the bad times. One good time is equal to like a 1,000 bad times. The are nuggets of gold. And it’s the little stuff too. Just making Ava laugh. Her giving me hugs and kisses. Her giving Frasier hugs and kisses. Watching her do things for the first time. Seeing her smile when I get home. It’s like magic how that can make me forget about all the stresses of the day. Something straight out of Harry Potter, simply magic.
Now that Ava is one, I look at other parents with new babies and think,”What happened? Where did the time go?”
I miss that stage when she was just a tiny infant that I could cradle in one arm. It’s amazing that as I look back at that stage in her life I easily forget about getting up every two hours at night and the constant 100 percent attention you have to give.
Ava now can sit up on my lap and climb all over me. She clings onto the side of my body when I carry her. She squirms and wiggles to be put down so she can crawl around. She can stand on her own. She can amuse herself. It’s both saddening and a relief to see her grow increasingly independent.
Time moves on and you just have to remember to enjoy today before it goes away too. Saturday is Ava’s party and it should be fun. Everything is planned to a “T” thanks to Michelle. Lots of cute decorations. Lots of food. Lots of family. (I invited my buddy Jack Daniels just incase I need his support if things get too hectic).
Her first birthday is one of many milestones I am looking forward to celebrating with her and as a family.
As I look back, I can’t help but to also look forward. Taking her to ballet class. Going to the beach. Her first day of school. Having our first catch. Teaching her to swing a bat, shoot a hoop and to field a grounder. (God help me if she isn’t into some sort of sport)
Yep, life is good my friends. I have been truly blessed in life (As Pete Viola would say). I have learned to not sweat the small stuff, to stop and smell the roses and that Jack Daniels is better for headaches than Advil.