The Fears of a First-Time Father
I was excited to be a first-time father when Rooney was born. There was so much joy in my heart for that little girl. And not only her, but for my wife as well. For all the hard work and sacrifices she made throughout her journey to bring our baby into the world. The moment Rooney was born I had such a feeling of accomplishment and of a job well done.
What I didn't really put much thought into was the fears I would have to face in the months to come. There were and still are so many unknowns in the realm of fatherhood that it can be overwhelming on a daily basis. Looking back, I'm not sure how we got through some of the things we have as a family, but with each minor hurdle we seem to be growing in strength and courage as parents.
Being a reflective person, I wanted to capture the fears that I have overcome thus far, and I hope to use them as fuel to help me overcome the fears yet to come.
Fears I've Faced So Far
- Changing a dirty diaper. This was physically the worst fear I had before Rooney was born. However, with Kelsey recovering in the hospital bed, it took all of a few hours of Rooney's life for me to conquer this one. (Thanks to my sister-in-law, Kari, for giving me my first lesson in diaper changing! Front to back, what!)
- What if we can't calm her down? We have been blessed with a mellow baby who only seems to cry when she is hungry or tired. Meet those needs, and you're golden! However, at about 24-hours-old, we had a meltdown in the hospital. We couldn't get her to stop crying. Luckily Nana and Papa (Kelsey's parents) swooped in to save the day. I learned that day a lot about patience and persistence. Babies cry, and you have to keep trying different things to meet their needs. Not getting frustrated was something that took me a few months to figure out.
- Being home alone with Rooney. This was frightening to me. Kelsey and I work so well as a team, that it was scary to me to think about taking care of her by myself. This past weekend Kelsey was at a Women of Faith conference and Rooney and I hung out Friday night and all day Saturday. No big deal. I think a lot of it has to do with her getting older, but the fear is gone. Infants are so precious; I think I was afraid of breaking her.
- Shots. I was not prepared for the type of crying Rooney let out after her first set of shots. I was holding her and looking into her eyes. It broke my heart. The second time around I was prepared with lots of love to give her right after and was able to calm her down within minutes. It was a proud moment as a father.
Fears I Have Yet to Face
- Her first fall. You know, when she starts walking and falls down and gets hurt. I really don't want that to ever happen. But I know it will, and I know I'll have to comfort her, but I still don't want it to happen. Thinking of building a bubble...
- Her first day of school. I think about how she will get from place to place and deal with the transition. The worst fear is that it will be here before we know it.
- Getting her license. Will I be able to trust her to drive a car on her own? This is super scary...
- Going off to college. Cannot imagine how this will feel, or how I will be able to let her go.
- Walking her down the aisle. Being a father now, weddings have a whole new meaning. I look at them from the marriage perspective, of course, and reminisce about our own wedding and the vows we said to one another, and that is familiar. But, watching the father walk his daughter down the aisle creates the fear of one day having to do the same.
I don't think fears are bad until they consume your life. I guess I look at them as challenges. A mountain that we somehow have to get to the top of. We have no training manual, no script to follow. There is lots of advice out there on all of these fears I'm sure, but ultimately we have to decide how we will handle these situations ourselves. But it builds character, and I wouldn't give up the title of being Rooney's father for anything in the world.
What fears have you faced in the past six months?