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Column: I’m learning to be a dad one step at a time

I have to admit, when my son was born earlier this year I was so strung out on stress and lack of sleep that the moment was more one of relief than overwhelmed joy.

But now that Magnus is a bit over 3 months old there is plenty of overwhelming joy.

Sometimes when I sing to him, he coos back his own little tune to make it a duet. He’s possibly the only person in the universe who actually enjoys my off-tune warbling. I’ve made up lots of sing-song refrains to keep things fresh, little ditties like: “Magnus the wonder boy, he’s so cute and he’s a joy.” (You can replace “so cute” with “so smart” and so on and so on.)

He loves it. I love it.

Sometimes I’ll come home from the office, thinking about newspaper things, and he’ll be doing “tummy time,” laying on his stomach while my wife reads to him. It is impossible to think about work in that moment, and it’s impossible to not be overwhelmed with joy.

Becoming a dad has me thinking a lot more about being a good example. The biggest thing I’m working on now is my temper. I’ve gone from powder keg to musket to pea-shooter levels of rage. (That’s in my humble estimation; my wife and co-workers may be inclined to slightly disagree.)

Another biggie is patience. It’s ... still a struggle. I get twitchy quick when things drag on. I’m working on it though, I promise. Little things, like getting stuck behind a waffling patron in the drive-through lane, don’t throw me out of sorts anymore, they just annoy and aggravate me. I no longer feel the urge to scream at every bad driver on the interstate. It’s small, but it’s progress.

Along with the things I’m working on, there are things that I’ve learned now that I’m a father.

The first, and most important, is that my son will love me because I love him. Not because I’m the greatest writer or hottest photographer or a world-class disc golf talent. He won’t care if my columns have a few jokes that fall flat or I don’t quite get the shot I envisioned when I’m out with the camera. None of that stuff will matter to him in the least, and as time passes on it all starts to matter less and less to me.

You never know quite where life is going to take you. I always thought I would be a dad, but it didn’t happen until I was 39-years-old. Now I’m battling ODS (Old Dad Syndrome). It’s a never ending fight – just the other day I almost left the house wearing socks with sandals — but I feel like I’m winning.

It may seem weird, but nowadays I’m a lot less worried about where I’m going in life. I’m trying to just enjoy the ride with my young family. The Beatles crooned “All you need is love.” I’m beginning to think they were onto something. Love and overwhelming joy, that’s all you really need.

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