Being in the moment

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, June 13, 2019

Before our daughter was born, my wife joked that she didn’t have to worry about getting me anything for Father’s Day that year, because her due date came after that.

But when her doctor told her she needed to have our daughter before that, she was on the hook. She went into the hospital on a Tuesday evening, and our daughter was born on a Friday, three weeks before the expected due date.

It caught both of us off guard. We didn’t have a crib set up, the car seats weren’t in our cars yet, and our apartment was nowhere near ready for us to bring home a baby.

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Yet we figured it out, and even in the midst of recovering from having a baby, she found a way to get me a small gift.

The reality, though, is that she never has to get me anything for Father’s Day.

My daughter is my gift every year, even if on some days she tests me in ways I never thought possible. I learned how to change a diaper while she squirmed on the changing table — in the places that had them. Parenting classes really should teach how to change a moving baby on a balance beam. That’s about how changing our daughter, at times, was for me.

I learned what sounds meant good, and what sounds meant I needed to do something about them. Now, at age 3, those sounds are getting more demanding and urgent, and they’re uttered in short, but full, sentences, though she does say please and thank you, and is quick with a Band-Aid if she thinks you’re hurt.

She’s whiz-bang quick and super sly, to the point where mom and dad are having a hard time keeping up. Try playing chase with her. You’ll see.

My daughter, obviously, is what I think about every Father’s Day. Everyone I talked to about her has said to savor every moment and how time will seem to go by quickly. I try to do that, which means separating myself from my smartphone occasionally — pausing from the photos and videos I take of her, and just being in the moment with her.

Being in that moment means not checking messages and painting with her. Being in the moment means not scrolling through Facebook or YouTube, and molding Play-Doh together. Being in that moment means getting home so I can tuck her into bed and hold her hand as she falls asleep. Being in the moment means taking time to giggle from tickles, and giving hugs after tears.

But on Father’s Day, I also think about my wife, and how much she helps me be a better father, and it gives me an appreciation of my own father, who I know faced many a challenge when I was growing up.

If, as my wife says, my daughter indeed has my personality, I’m in for even more challenges ahead. But every smile, every hug, every kiss and every “I love you daddy” makes it all worthwhile.

So I don’t really need any gifts. My daughter is my greatest gift, on Father’s Day, and any other day.