Being a dad has to be one of the most rewarding and, at the same time, one of the most challenging tasks a man will ever face. I tried to prepare myself for fatherhood. I really did. But I am finding out that nothing prepares you like experience. Only experience can teach you how to handle that first diaper blowout, or how to comfort them after their first major boo boo, or how not to accidentally say a dirty word after stepping on a plastic Abby Cadabby figure in the middle of the night. One of the major ways I am learning as a father is by observation. Not only am I learning how to be a better father by observing my daughter, but she is also teaching me how to be a better man and husband to my wife. Here are three things my daughter, Madie, has taught me the last 19 months.
1. Never lose your sense of wonder or adventure
Going outside is like visiting another planet for a 19 month old. Her eyes get wide, she gets this giddy look on her face, and she explores everything when we are outside. She acts like coming back into the house after an outside adventure is the most traumatic thing in the world. She loves adventure and she is beautifully wonderstruck by everything she sees outside. This has encouraged me to keep my sense of wonder and adventure alive. I need to always be willing to take my daughter and her mother on new adventures. As a husband, being married is the greatest adventure I could ever be on. I need to love my bride the way Christ loved His, and I need to never lose my sense of excitement and wonder at being a father and husband.
2. Always be mindful of your words and actions
Madie is at the stage where she tries to mimic everything her mother and I do. If we go into a room, she follows us. If I drop something and say, “uh oh”, she says, “uh oh”. If I bang my head on a cabinet door and say, “ouch”, she grabs her head and says, "ouch". She is a copycat, and she follows in her parents footsteps. The older she gets the more she will observe how I treat others. She will observe how I treat her mother, and may seek a mate that treats her the same way. I want to be a godly husband to my wife, so she will seek that type of mate for herself someday. Someday way in the future.
3. Always take time to laugh
The other day my wife , Rebekah, and I were in the living room laughing hysterically about something on television. Madie was in her room playing. All of a sudden she burst into the living room and started laughing hysterically with us even though she had no idea what she was laughing at. Madie loves to laugh, and she often does so for no reason at all. I tend to get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I don’t take time to just relax and have fun. I recently made it one of my goals to do something every day that makes Madie laugh. Whether it is wearing her Tinkerbell bucket on my head or chasing her around the room on my hands and knees, I just want to make her laugh. In doing so, it brings joy to my day as well.