The birth of my first child, Victoria, occurred after approximately sixteen hours of labor.
The amount of time you have anticipating something that takes as long as a normal human pregnancy has a direct correlation to the number of fears, tragedies, & negative outcomes the mind can conjure up in waiting.
Fighting through my fears I held my perfect little baby for the first time.
She fit neatly, head to butt in the cup made by holding my hands together as if by design.
It seemed like she could barely breathe on her own.
After all the boning up on what to expect, the Lamaze classes, the books & articles; it was then that I realized just how fragile she was.
The thought kicked me between the eyes; everything she was going to need to survive would need to be provided by her new parents, at any cost.
Oblivious to the rest of the world, we locked eyes & I sang to my little girl in the delivery room.
Not long afterwards, I discovered the first lesson of Fatherhood; the awareness of just how selfish & shallow we are in our everyday life.
Fatherhood brought me a greater understanding of the difference between want & need.
I wanted to be the best person I could be for them.
No more hanging out because it was more important to be home.
Gone was the irresponsible behavior because sharing time with my daughter & son, who followed a couple of years later, became more important to me than anything.
The second lesson I learned: the child is a completely blank slate.
You are their teacher, role model & super-hero, all in one.
The seriousness of the matter can be daunting if pondered too long.
Every thought, every action, every word, every facial expression, every emotion & how we communicate them, is being carefully watched.
We are imprinting our young.
The lesson that affects me to this day came to me a few years later as they went to school, then college.
The joy & the stress, the love & the pain, the frustration & the euphoria that come from the kids are never ending.
There have been many other lessons learned & some are still in process.
But perhaps the most surprising lesson of Fatherhood is that the kids teach us probably as much about ourselves, as we teach them about the world around us.