Last week, I earned a new title: Father. After four and half years of preschool, I get to find out if all of that “parental advice” I dish out actually works. Already, I’ve gotten advice from numerous family members, friends, and even parents within my own preschool:
Take care of yourself.
When there is downtime, rest.
When people offer to babysit, take it!
I’m one week into parenthood and I’m strapped in for the roller coaster my life is about to become – and I’m optimistic. Besides all the advice, people have said that as an early childhood educator, I’m probably more prepared than most males. Perhaps. However, I’m pretty sure I never went through the “3-hour crying session at 2 a.m.” training.
If you’re wondering, yes, that happened this morning.
One question that I’ve been asked is this: Do you feel different? Does holding your own child feel different? It’s a fair question. I hang around small children all day. Does knowing there is now a living, breathing child running around with my ears and arm hair feel different? Yeh. It does. Though only a little. But it’s strong little feeling. Very strong and it’s growing. If I had to summarize the feeling into a statement, it would read “I would do anything for my son.”
There is another question on my mind and it’s one that I ask myself:
How does it feel to be joining the community you serve? The parenthood community?
The feeling is surreal. Think about it. It’s like a doctor becoming a patient in her own hospital or a taxi driver hailing a taxi. I feel like the CEO of a toupee company who reveals their bald head and says “I’m not only the CEO, but a client.”
I think about how I get to practice what I preach. You know? All these posts where I share best practices about lessons and activities and things to try at home. Yep. In three years I get to try them all out.
I think about other parents, mostly the ones I serve at my preschool. You see, becoming a father is more than me. It’s the idea that I’m a father serving in a preschool and I get to meet other fathers. Commonality is the foundation for strong relationships. It’s more powerful to say to a parent “This worked with my child” rather than “You can try this.” I hope fatherhood is a positive for my work (although, I wouldn’t recommend becoming a father just to boost your resume).
Moral of the Story: Lead by example.
Being a male in preschool is already a trail-blazing idea. I’m a role-model for other guys. But having a son is more than me becoming a father, but also the opportunity to be an example to other fathers. And fatherhood means that I’m an example for another man… a much younger man… a man who earlier vomited milk on my shirt and urinated on my arm. More than anything, I strive to be a good example for my son, Ethan.