I was thinking about the different books and magazine articles I’ve read recently on various parenting and fatherhood issues and realize that there’s one major topic that no-one ever talks about, and it’s a topic that’s incredibly important for any parent to realize…
And what is that topic? That parenting is fun and that there’s an immense amount of pride and pleasure that you as a parent get every day from watching your children grow, develop and master skills. From the simple achievements like a baby being able to track a moving face to the more advanced skills like painting or excelling at a sport, parenting is far more fulfilling and enjoyable than any parenting “expert” would have you believe.
In the last week we’ve enjoyed our kids in just this way quite a few times, from watching A-, our 7yo, dive and do silly stunts in the waters of the Lake of the Ozarks to marveling at how G-, our 4yo, picked up a baseball bat for the first time and successfully hit the first five balls I pitched to him.
Today was a milestone too: our 6mo baby sat in a high chair for the first time. The waiter at the Cheesecake Factory had no idea what a milestone it was, but not only were we all delighted and proud, but the baby was pretty darn thrilled to be sitting at the table, reaching out and trying to snag anything within about 20″ of her little chair.
Some parenting experts, like Brazelton, have their academic milestones that they talk about (he calls them “touchpoints”) but that just takes the fun out of it and instead encourages you to get anxious about whether your child is “on track” and “on schedule”. This is the same reason we don’t recommend that you have your pediatrician assess where your child is on height and weight charts. If there’s a problem, you’ll know about it, and otherwise what possible value can there be in knowing that your precious child is in the 83rd percentile for their age in weight, but only in the 39th percentile for height, or similar?
Instead, keep your sense of wonder about you and remember at least once a day to look at your child with a sense of awe, a sense of amazement, and a sense of pride in what they can do, how they can speak coherently, read street signs, remember what you promised them six busy hours ago, and even balance on stilts or shoot a basket.
And that moment will not only remind you why all this parenting effort is worthwhile, it’ll help enlarge your heart and make you a better parent too.