Father’s Day 2022
In honor of Father’s Day, we welcome the Parent Voices of fathers, including two of our coworkers and two of our spouses. They are Alex Newman, husband of Pollywog Blogger Tiffany Newman; Bryan Steinhauser, EL Hub Business Liaison; Jinguang Lin, EL Hub Data & Evaluation Coordinator; and Terry Trask, husband to LeAnne Trask, Pollywog Coordinator. We asked them to share their experiences becoming a father and what fatherhood means to them.
Even when I was young, I knew I wanted to be a dad one day. After the exciting pregnancy test that my wife casually tossed at me, and 9 long months of waiting, I found myself anxious and curious about what it was going to feel like to be a dad. Would I feel an instant connection? After all, I only had ambiguous ultrasounds and tiny kicks to get to know my boy before he would be here. For me, my first real memory of bonding with my first son came after the adrenaline and blinding light of the delivery room gave way to the calmness of the dimly lit hallway on the way to our recovery room. I had the honor of pushing Carson’s bassinet down the hall and watching his eyes fully open for the first time. It was an incredible feeling, but it wasn’t what I expected. What I felt was a deep sense of responsibility and purpose. Above all else, I needed to protect and provide for my new son. Someone I didn’t feel like I knew yet.
I am fortunate enough to work for an amazing company that offers 12 weeks of paid leave for both mothers and fathers. For both boys, the majority of my parental leave started at about 4 or 5 months old, after my wife’s leave. That’s when most of the magic happened for me. About a month into my leave with each boy, something changed in their eyes. There was a spark. Suddenly, there was a depth to the tiny stare. I saw curiosity in their eyes. I saw a desire to learn and understand the world around them. I think in that moment was when I first felt like I knew my boys. I have no idea what the coming years have in store for me as a dad. Trials, I am sure, but I look forward to the amazing experiences I will get to share with my kids.
I had my first children, preemie twins, at 39 years old. I don’t recommend waiting that long. I tell people to do it younger if they can. Fatherhood is like professional sports. It’s something best performed by someone who isn’t middle-aged. But such is life. Now comes the challenge of being the best father I can be to those rug-rats.
It’s better now than before. They’re three and a half years old, fully into the toddler phase, and I can actually be the father they need. I couldn’t before when they were still in the “potato with a pulse” phase, alternating between sleeping, crying, eating, and pooping. Back then, they didn’t really need a father, they needed more nursemaids. Sure, they also needed a provider who could and would protect them, and I did. But parenting at that stage is not much different than caring for a newborn chimpanzee. And I’ll be honest, I lack the necessary nurturing instincts to excel in that role. But I was handed that difficult mission, I did the job, mission complete, time to move on.
Speaking for myself, Father’s Day doesn’t mean much to me. I don’t put much stock into it. Here’s my prediction: I’ll get some crepes out of it for breakfast, a small present, and some “art” my kids made the week before. And that’s perfectly awesome because my real reward comes later with Tommy and Emma fully capable of tackling a tough world while having the wits and mindset to enjoy it too. Because that is what fatherhood means to me.
And that means having to teach and guide them in things that I know how, that I excel at, that they need in addition to what they learn from everyone else. Things only a father can impart. I’m very much ready for that challenge! My kiddoes are like sponges that eagerly soak up knowledge, and I really want to impart it to them. We can have conversations now, and they remember the things I tell them. I tell them jokes, and they get them. We wrestle, and they try to get the better of me. I even have them helping out around the house already doing chores!
And this is only the beginning. What are they going to be capable of in the future? I’m very much looking forward to finding out. And fatherhood was the gift that imparted that motivation and positivity to me for the future. And for that, I am grateful.
I grew up in a small fishing village. My father was the role model for me. He was a kind and honest person with a lot of good qualities. He also was a very hard-working guy. Even though he was so busy working to support his family, he still made time to play with my sisters and me almost every day. I still can remember those moments when my father taught me how to swim, repair a fishing net, steer a boat, and prepare for fishing. He always treated my sisters and me with great patience, tolerance, and love. I will always cherish those precious moments in my heart.
After my oldest son was born, I began to realize it was not so easy to be a good father, just like my father. It was a learning experience. I had moments of feeling that I was on the verge of burning out. But a big smile from this little kiddo would pull me back and recharge me instantly. Now I am a father of three. Watching my kids growing up is a wonderful experience for me. Every day these three wonderful kids are teaching me how to be a better father and a better husband. I hope that they will grow into persons with good personalities, knowing how to appreciate this wonderful world in the future.
I remember the day my first son was born. The nurse handed me that little squirming bundle, and I looked into his face, and I felt PANIC! I felt unprepared. I felt scared. I felt the “permanence” of it. This was going to be my son for the rest of my life, and I owed him my best. We now have three sons—three wonderful sons—and I have learned some life lessons as a father.
Lesson 1: Give them your undivided attention. Sometimes when my children were small, they would take hold of my chin and turn my face to theirs, or they would put their forehead on my forehead while they whispered their secrets to me. They wanted me to look at them and listen to them. Not my phone. Not the television. Them.
Lesson 2: Do not fight about the small stuff. Don’t lose your mind and waste time fighting about dirty bedrooms. Just shut the door. Don’t force them to eat every bite on their plate but let them taste and decide if they like it or not. Don’t try to make them take off their batman costume (which they have worn for the last two weeks), but maybe explain that Bruce Wayne didn’t wear his costume every day. Save the confrontations for the big stuff.
Lesson 3: Girlfriends come, and girlfriends go (insert “boyfriends” here too). We used to make all girlfriends stand on the sides of the group when we took pictures so that they would be easier to PhotoShop out down the road! Some girlfriends are wonderful, and some are terrible, and you can’t wait for them to be gone. It’s normal, don’t sweat it. One day they will bring home a girlfriend that is a “keeper,” and you will suddenly have daughters too! It’s an amazing experience.
Lesson 4: Those first 18 years of life go by so fast. At the time, it doesn’t feel like it, but looking back, you’ll be sad about the things that you missed out on. Every moment with them is precious. And if you are lucky, you’ll have even more moments with them when they leave your house. Make sure you prepare them for the world outside your home.
Being a dad is the greatest honor of my life, and I am so happy and proud of the men that my sons have become. On Father’s Day, they celebrate me, but I am the one who is grateful for them and for the love and happiness that they have brought into my life. Being a father is the best!
We hope you enjoyed these fathers’ perspectives on what being a father means to them. Join us to celebrate our fathers and father figures every day, including Father’s Day, and to value, support, and encourage the role of fatherhood.
Happy Father’s Day!