Once they’re grown, the joy of fatherhood continues

In hindsight, it was a lot of trusting the gut

It was her first visit to the pediatrician. As we were finishing up the exam and getting all the new-parent advice from the doctor, we realized she would need a new diaper.

It’s not that we forgot. We didn’t think of it. We hadn’t been out of the house with her before and we were, well, pretty new to this. Of course the pediatrician would take off her diaper. Everybody knows that. Right?

The nurses, while stunned, were helpful and scared up a newborn diaper from somewhere.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve found every age to be amazing. Holding a finger in each hand as they stumble across the living room floor, the school plays, recitals, graduations, and now one is wading into a professional life while the other becomes an upperclassman in college.

Their backs used to be the size of my hand. Recently I was looking at their backs as they led me through the streets of a foreign city.

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Watching them grow, learn and most amazingly — become their own –people — is a daily joy. They’ve become people who make decisions for themselves, choose to do what needs to be done without being told, walk through Manhattan like they own the place and sometimes reminds her father to clean up his dinner dishes.

Trust your gut as a father

There are plenty of parenthood how-to books. I think I’ve been fortunate to have had a good example in my parents. I tried to repeat the catch phrases I learned from my father: “Think of the next guy. If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Do it right the first time.”

I hope that along the way I’ve either set a good example or brought others into their lives who will.

Believe in the right things. Be confident that good will win. Help others in need. Never give up. Be fair. Be honest with others and yourself. Moderation. Don’t waste money (that includes closing the windows when the air conditioning is on).

More often than not, I have relied on instinct. Always be on your child’s side. Always have her back. Make sure she knows it.

You’ll catch her or help her up when she falls, but let her take her own steps. Love her and listen to her and let your gut take care of the rest.

There really isn’t all that much to learn.

Except this: Never leave the house without a diaper.