5 Things I Learned about Fatherhood after 5 years of being a father

My son turned 5 earlier this year. They grew up so fast. He is also pretty tall for his age. He probably got the tall genes from my wife’s side. Her brothers are 6 feet tall and even her sisters are pretty tall. She is the shortest one in their family.

Kids grow fast! You blink and they grow taller, they start saying weird, cool, unintentionally profound words that take you aback. I can’t believe that 5 years ago, my son weighed just over 6 pounds. Now, he’s close to 50 pounds! Carrying him can feel like a serious workout. I remember throwing him up to the air, then spinning with him round and round our living room. I can’t do that anymore. He’s too big and heavy now!

Here are 5 things I learned about fatherhood.

You will feel inadequate and if you had any daddy issue growing up, they will show up and scare you.

I was 30 when my son was born. I am probably late to the fatherhood game compared to some of my high school friends. But I still felt inadequate when I first held him in my arms. So many insecurities, fear, and worry raced through my head.

Growing up, my own father was disciplinarian and enforced an old-school, spanking discipline strategy. At some point, I felt so far away from him because of that. My relationship with my father improved over time as I matured. But I had this real fear about discipline. What if I end becoming a strict, spank-em disciplinarian, too? Will my son hate me when he grows up? Will I ruin his childhood? So many questions. Will I be able to provide for his needs and some of his wants?

After 5 years, I still have some of those fears. Maybe, they never really go away and as fathers, we try to deal with these emotions as best as we could. I’m not an expert. Maybe no one ever really is. But I understand fatherhood a little bit more.

Kids sometimes enjoy the toys you build together compared to the ones that you buy.

Since moving to the USA, we have bought a lot of toys for our son. Mind you, we don’t usually buy them at full price. But his room is full of toys, books, and other goodies for kids. A friend of ours who visited one time said that his room and toys resembled the play area of a kindergarten school in the Philippines.

But here’s the thing, my son and I have built a couple of paper airplanes, a dinosaur head, and a box airplane that he rides in. He loved those toys that we built together. Maybe it’s the shared experience of creating something. But that feeling is priceless!

You should make time for your wife and make her feel special and valued.

It’s easy to focus on kids when they are small and growing up. My wife and I have only had limited opportunity to go on a date by ourselves. Before our son came along, we would eat out at SM North or Trinoma in Quezon City, and even watch movies frequently.

Having a child means that you won’t have as much alone time as you used to have.

It’s also very easy to get buried by work, by routine, and by all the things we need to earn, save, and maintain our lifestyles. Making time for each other needs to become a deliberate, intentional effort. Otherwise, it gets sidelined and forgotten.

Hug, play, and kiss your child while you still can!

When kids are small, they hug a lot, kiss a lot, and play a lot. Enjoy it while you can. Our son is still at that stage. But I have seen some nephews and nieces grow a bit more distant as they enter their teenage years.

A lot of Filipinos I know have a ‘family bed,’ which means that parents and kids sleep together in a big bed. We have a hybrid arrangement. Our son has his own bed, but it is in our room. Between 11pm and 1am (it never fails), he gets up to go potty, and then climbs into the big bed.

At first, I thought about weaning him off this habit. But my wife and I eventually agreed that he gets to be a child only once, we might as well enjoy his attention, his hugs, kisses, and yes, even his occasional interruption of our sleep.

It’s been 5 years since I became a father. This kind of relationship doesn’t really end. I wouldn’t want to. It’s been one of the most rewarding and challenging parts of my life. I wouldn’t trade any part of it.

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