Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.

The Absurdity of Fatherhood

When you become a dad, it's much harder to stay stuck on self. Your kids won't let you.



This essay is over four years old. It's possible my views have changed since I first wrote this, but I choose to leave it online nevertheless. Cheers, Jared

I was a very serious young man. I don’t mean I couldn’t have a good time, or enjoy a round of hearty laughter. But I was very preoccupied with my fate and spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating it.

When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was grow up. When I grew up, all I wanted to do was all the things I imagined doing when I was a kid. However, as we all discover when we enter the world of adulthood, things often don’t work out as planned. Life happens and dreams easily become obscured, cloudy. What once felt like destiny now seems farther off than ever before.

Then there were three…

My wife and I, upon returning from our honeymoon, had a whole laundry list of dreams to chase. For a while, it was fun. Then it became not fun because chasing dreams and catching them are entirely two different things. For a while, our lives felt glum, and it seemed like the world was crashing down around our ears.

Then along came baby.

Babies don’t care about your dreams. Babies aren’t interested in your internal angst. They don’t understand your baggage. Frankly, they don’t think whatever it is you’re worried about is all that important.

Babies like drinking milk, wiggling their toes, and watching funny faces (or making them).

Now that our baby is a toddler, her horizons have expanded. Now she enjoys throwing balls while waving her hands around in the air, playing with wooden trains, eating guacamole, and hiding underneath pillows or blankets. She also likes Curious George.

Children make you young again…if you let them.

The moral of the story is…well, I still dream about the future and contemplate where my life is headed, but it’s a whole lot harder to get lost in my melancholy when a cute, wacky little bundle of unbridled glee is running around the house with a colander on her head. (She thinks it’s a hat.) My wife and I don’t even need to turn on the TV anymore – we’re living with a bona fide comedienne.

When I allow myself to enter into her child-like joy and wonder and stop to admire the little things in God’s creation so easily overlooked – a leaf on the ground, a bird in the tree, a mud pile, the funny feel of eating shredded cheese – I find myself growing younger. And that is an amazing thing.

I’m glad to be a father. Dads, I hope you are too.


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