We have nearly reached the one-year anniversary of my most important achievement, and it has nothing to do with my life goals or my career.
Roughly a year ago, I became a father.
We have all heard the cliches about what parenthood does to a person - it is the most important job you will ever have, it changes you as an individual, etc. - but sometimes a cliche becomes exactly that because it is true and it bears repeating.
I am absolutely different than I was a year ago, and I do have a new priority moving forward.
I will never forget the day my wife told me she was pregnant. I wasn't over the moon or terrified or anything like that. I just told her it was weird. Weeks went by - the ultrasounds, the crib-building and all of that - and it still felt weird. We were rapidly approaching the due date and still, the only word to describe the situation was "weird."
Then my son was born.
He was here. I sat in one of the semi-comfortable hospital chairs with him in my lap. I fed him and changed him and surprisingly, absolutely nothing about the situation was weird to me. My situation was immediately recognizable as my new normal.
In the year since that time, it has rarely felt like an obligation, instead feeling more like this new adventure I get to have.
Though he is a pretty good sleeper, there have been nights where my wife and I didn't get a whole lot of sleep. There have been fevers, ear infections (six of them, to be precise), mild tantrums and plenty of things to frustrate us. My shoulders hurt from constantly picking him up and setting him down. I would probably be OK if I never heard "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" again.
Despite all of that, this past year has been amazing.
I get to play with this kid every day. I get to hear all the gibberish he says and I get to be on the receiving end of his hugs that include a pat on the shoulder because his arms are too small to reach my back. I would argue that beats every frustrating thing imaginable.
When my wife and I were dating, and even in the first year or two of marriage, I told her I didn't think I wanted to have kids. I like kids, and I'm my niece's and nephews' favorite uncle, but I always thought kids were more fun when I wasn't the one ultimately responsible for them - where I can mess around with them for the day and send them home with their parents at the end of it.
It turns out, at least for me, that was an idiotic way to look at it. Having and raising my own child has been more fun, more challenging and more rewarding than I ever would have thought.
One other cliche you hear about being a parent is "they grow up so fast." I guess I'll have to find out if that one is really true, but this year has flown by so I'm inclined to believe it.
That said, I can't wait to see him grow and change. He has already changed so much, but one thing hasn't.
Since day one, he has been my greatest achievement.
Love you Buddy. Keep being awesome.