Rewind to December 2009. I was a happy guy, my wife was 11 weeks pregnant, and I was going to be a dad for the first time. Words couldn’t describe how pumped I was to be a father. In June of 2010 (ironically, the due date was a day before Father’s Day) I was going to meet the baby boy or girl that I was already completely in love with…and then my world came crashing down.
Three days prior to Christmas 2009, my wife and I lost our baby.
I understand that bad things can happen during the first trimester, but that didn’t ease our devastation. I put on a brave face for my wife by saying everything will be OK, and I told my inner circle that we’ll dust ourselves off and try again – but privately I was a mess. I didn’t eat, I lost a lot of weight, and spent a lot of my private moments in tears. I knew I had to move forward, but I didn’t know how. I would hear stories of deadbeat dads, lazy dads, and dads who frankly don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves – and I would become enraged. How the hell could someone father a child and not want to be involved in their lives? I’d give up anything to raise a baby. That’s all I wanted. I promised God that if we were lucky enough to have a child, I would be the best dad I could be for my baby, if I could just get the chance. All I wanted was a chance.
After what seemed like the longest wait ever, I finally became a father to a beautiful baby girl in January 2011.
When I held my baby for the first time, I felt a rush of emotion that I will never forget for as long as I’m alive. I cried, laughed, and felt as if I could leap tall buildings with a single bound. As I wheeled her bassinet down the empty hospital hallway so she could have her first bath, I whispered to her, “Hi there. I’m not perfect, but I will dedicate my life to ensuring yours is amazing as possible. I love you, kiddo.” She was sleeping peacefully, but I know she heard me.
I don’t take any moment with my daughter for granted, I cherish all of the time I have with her, and I miss her like hell when she’s not with me. Poopy diapers, tantrums, late-night meltdowns, whatever – I don’t really care. I asked for this, I prayed for this, I am built for this.
I call myself a Daddy Doin’ Work not because it’s a catchy little nickname, but because I understand the amount of work it takes to be good, involved father. Gone are the days when a dad can come home from work, kick off his shoes, and yell, “Honey, where’s my dinner??” while he watches ESPN, plays videogames, drinks beer, and ignores his children.
It takes work to support an exhausted wife or girlfriend.
It takes work to change diapers in the middle of the night and comfort a crying infant.
It takes work to always keep promises to our children.
It takes work to be the positive male role model our children need and deserve.
The good news is that plenty of these great men exist today, and they’re constantly Doin’ Work to ensure their kids have the happiest and most fulfilled lives. To these men, no job is more important than being a good daddy. They are selfless, hardworking, and loving – and they should be the gold standard for what fatherhood is all about.
So what does being a Daddy Doin’ Work mean to me?
It’s a reminder on that cold rainy night in December 2009 I didn’t think I’d ever be a father.
It’s a reminder that I was supposed to hold my son or daughter in my arms on Father’s Day 2010, but instead I spent time alone in tears clutching the baby’s ultrasound picture. It’s that memory that will ensure I never take a moment with my daughter for granted.
It’s a reminder that I wouldn’t hesitate to kill or be killed if it meant protecting my daughter.
It’s a reminder that unconditional love truly exists.
It’s a reminder that my daughter is the only person who can erase the shittiest of days with a simple smile or hug.
It’s a reminder that money shouldn’t be spent on things (fancy cars, designer clothes, etc.) but on experiences that create lasting memories (weddings, vacations, parties with loved ones, etc.).
It’s a reminder that delivering a healthy baby is truly the universe’s greatest miracle, and one that I will cherish forever.