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HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE FATHERHOOD TREASURE THE LITTLE MOMENTS
If being a dad has taught me one thing, it’s how much we tend to take our parents for granted as kids. Stepping into their shoes, I suddenly understood the reason all those annoying rules and chores existed when I was growing up. There have been so many moments over the course of raising Zack and Nathan where I’ve found myself sounding exactly like my father. Oh, if only 15-year-old Mike could see me now. This is all to say that I’m grateful for the way my parents raised my siblings and me. While I struggled to see all the good they were doing at the time, I finally realize just how necessary those household rules I used to chafe against really are. More importantly, becoming a dad showed me that these restrictions and guidelines come from a place of love. One thing you really don’t expect as a new parent is just how much time you’re going to spend worrying. First, you have this little, fragile baby you need to tend to. And then they learn to crawl, bounce, climb, and eventually walk — making every corner and stairway a potential hazard. This cycle repeats as your child matures. Zack is going into high school this fall, and my mind is buzzing with “what ifs.” It’s safe
to say I understand why I had a curfew around his age. With Emilie and I both being physical therapists, we have the added stress of seeing our children through the lens of our education. You spend a lot of time studying the development of the human body in PT school, which can cause the growth of your children to be a constant source of concern. Throughout Zack and Nathan’s childhoods we’d ask ourselves, “Are they developing at the right rate?” Despite this extra concern, there was one advantage to being a family of therapists: our patients. We received some really great advice from experienced parents we treated at the clinic. In particular, those with adult children would urge us to spend as much time as we can with our kids because their childhoods would be over before we knew it. I’m glad we took this advice to heart. Even now, Emilie and I do all we can to be there for our kids. Whether it’s supporting Zack in a school play or cheering on Nathan as he races down the ice, we make sure we’re there to treasure these moments. We also carve out time for family game nights, usually playing Scattergories. I, allegedly, cheat by making up words, but the
kids get a laugh whenever Mom catches me in the act. Not only have these moments given me great memories, but they’ve also done wonders to assuage that parental worrying. Yes, Zack is going to a huge school with 3,000 kids. Yes, he’s going to be driving before I know it and will want to hang out with friends until late at night. And yes, I’m going to worry. But I also know Zack, and I know he’s got a good head on his shoulders. That trust goes a long way toward preparing me for this whole new milestone. But those are worries for the future. Now, as Father’s Day approaches, I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with my sons and my dad on the golf course and having a relaxing barbecue with the family. For all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day.
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