Everyone knows women change when they become mothers. Special mothering genes awaken. New mothers instantly develop superhuman endurance, saintly patience, and remarkable resistance to chronic sleep deprivation. Their ears tune to special baby frequencies and can distinguish between seemingly meaningless coos, gurgles, and burps. Mothers also read minds, picking up early on suspect intentions and anticipating unarticulated needs. Women have it together where kids are concerned.
And what about new fathers? We're often thought of as well-intentioned but hopelessly overmatched nitwits. We don't know how to change diapers. We have no ready supply of baby food bursting from our torsos. We wipe our baby girls from back to front.
Never mistake competence for motivation, though. Fatherhood changes a man.
My first child and I were born together one night in 1996. I was there, watching the delivery, barely breathing. I saw my baby emerge. The top of her head, her shoulders, then suddenly, right before me, all of her. Her cries were a wonder; her little body and flailing arms were mesmerizing. The smell of her, the feel of her trembling little body, the sound of her small, plaintive voice – it all nearly overwhelmed me. I held her to my chest, and in that moment, I was changed forever.
I discovered unconditional love. My heart screamed to me, "my life for hers!" It was a priceless, life-changing, priority-rearranging experience. In an instant I grew from a boy to a man.
Life enjoys irony. I had expected to remain childless. Now I define myself as a father. It is who I want to be and how I choose to live. The needs of that tiny, fragile, innocent life washed away a lifetime of self-centered thoughts. I am better for it.
I don't have breasts, but I have a heart and, miraculously, it grows as our family grows. Fatherhood has changed me. It has shown me what love is all about. I cannot imagine a world without my beautiful children.
What a difference one little life can make!
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