• How to have a Happy Father’s Day

    This year, after celebrating many Father’s Days for others, I will be celebrated for the first time. On the official day, Owen will be five months and three days old.

    From the moment I knew the seed was planted and a new life was growing, a new life that I would be primarily responsible for, there was a deep internal shift in me. I won’t say that it changed me – I am still by and large the same guy.  Rather, some things that had been disorganized deep in my core suddenly bothered me, and I knew they had to be aligned and set right.

    I reviewed my priorities, refocused my work and life commitments, and prepared the way for a whole new set of responsibilities. I shed all nonessential functions, broke deals I had made with myself (I was never really going to fix that chair, it was just making me feel bad and taking up space), and made room for a whole new set of time consuming tasks. I started meditating. In short, I did a Spring Cleaning of my self – I vacuumed behind the future in my mind. Which is good, because mostly fatherhood consists of doing a lot of things that are a little unpleasant, and doing them a lot. On very little sleep.

    I had read all the studies about how children make you less happy because of the crazy work, lack of sleep, and cognitive dissonance between the expectations of parents to be and the reality of parenting. So I entered into this arrangement with a full awareness of the havoc it would wreak in my life and literally no expectations at all, and successfully became an outlier. I can honestly say that I am much, much happier now than I was before baby Owen was in my life. Not only does watching him “get it” for the first time (whatever “it” happens to be) bring me immense joy, but I am more productive and fulfilled than I have ever been before.

    Of course there were hurdles. For the first few months we were sleeping very little and there was so much work that things like laundry and cleaning (basically all nonbaby chores) went out the window. There was even a moment when I thought we had done something truly insane that we couldn’t take back. But then Owen started smiling when he saw us, and soon after that came laughing, and all doubt evaporated from my mind like haze in the morning sun.

    As my first official Father’s Day approaches, I don’t know what I will be doing, but I know that I will be happy doing it, because the process of becoming a father has made me a better man. Plus, bonus, eventually I get a lot of really crappy ties.

    • Loved this.

      • Randy Graham

      • June 16, 2013 at 9:49 am
      • Reply

      Gabriel – Nice article. Our son is 26. He has made me a better man/person for more reasons than I can innumerate. Cherish every moment you have together as a family. Time flies by sooooo fast!

    • Congratulations on your first Father’s Day! I wish you a growing collection of crappy ties!

      • davidlacy

      • June 16, 2013 at 11:43 am
      • Reply

      Great column Gabe! And congratulations again!

      • Maya North

      • June 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm
      • Reply

      Isn’t it deliriously wonderful? Isn’t he just the little love of your life? I have three great loves of my life amid a life defined by powerful love — my daughter, husband and granddaughter (in chronological order from when they came into my life). You are savoring this — inhaling it, soul deep — there is nothing more important… <3

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