A funny thing happened on my way to Father’s Day 2017.
I became a grandfather thanks to my stepson and his wife.
The thing about becoming a grandfather is that it brings you sharply back to when you were a first-time parent.
That moment is filled with an overpowering brew of emotions, among them anticipation, hope, fear and pride.
I recall well holding my first son 24 years ago, bringing him to the window of the hospital suite and telling him about the trees and the clouds in the sky.
But from the moment you take your newborn in your arms, you are destined to screw things up.
You’re human, so you’re fallible and flawed. That your parenting will be less than perfect is inevitable.
But here’s the thing: No one tells you that as you begin your journey as a dad.
You start out in a state of high expectations.
You think you are going to be the embodiment of all the best TV fathers — some combination of Andy Taylor (“The Andy Griffith Show”), Ward Cleaver (“Father Knows Best”) and Howard Cunningham (“Happy Days”).
And then expectations meet reality: As a parent, you can feel sapped of time, energy and money, which can bring on guilt, doubts and feelings of inadequacy.
Am I doing a good job? Do I spend enough time with my kids? Are they socially engaged with others? Do I do enough to stimulate their curiosity? Am I setting a good example?
This is especially reinforced when you start comparing yourself to other dads.
“Well look at him,” you think. “He’s a soccer coach and Boy Scout volunteer and he takes his son camping and and and…”
It becomes a vicious cycle: The more doubtful or guilty you feel, the greater the sense of inadequacy. And so it goes to the point where you feel farther and farther away from the parenting utopia you think you should reach.
I can’t speak for all dads, but I know to this day I harbor so many wouldas, shouldas, couldas about raising my sons.
I look back and think I should have given more of my time but I either was too busy with work, not getting enough sleep or feeling the strain of my first marriage disintegrating.
So, like with everything else in life, you do the best you can. You fall down, get up and put one foot in front of the other.
And do you make mistakes – some of them awful and regretful? Yes. Yes you do.
But here’s the thing, despite your shortcomings and through some combination of grace, luck and gargantuan support from family (in my case, my second wife), things turn out well.
My “boys,” who just turned 24 and 19, are well regarded by others and valued at their jobs. They’re funny and caring and hard-working.
Sure, they have hang-ups and flaws — would it kill them to take out the garbage? — but they have grown into impressive young men.
So on this Father’s Day, hats off to dads everywhere.
You might not be perfect but if you’ve worked hard and tried your best, chances are the kids are all right.