In a previous article I wrote, Everyone is an Artist, I discussed how we all create art even when we don't realize it. We work as creators through every day situations, like setting up business deals, being social or decorating a home. And now for this, my second Father's Day, I've decided to send out a big cheers(!) too everyone with a small human attachment. Why? Because I'm an artist and raising a kid is an art.
Just kidding. I'm not actually going to explain that.
Don't get me wrong, there is some science to it... Feed, repeat. Smell poop, change, repeat (sorry, it's necessary.). Scraped knee, wash, apply dressing, repeat. That's where the very small manual comes in. And the rest? You gotta stumble, walk, fumble, then stumble some more until the parental artist in you becomes proficient in simple word usage, funny face making and the teaching of discipline.
Every single moment is a potentially new experience to a child. Each second of those moments can take a gazillion different turns. You have to analyze each situation, then shape every line and curve until you have the best experience you can create. That’s an art.
That skill is needed around every corner, every day, from meal times to entering the water at bath time… getting the little one into the car seat to arranging a drawer full of a child’s clothing.
First and foremost, being a Dad, a parent with the other bodily configuration or a caregiver takes both patience and understanding. As a former Early Childhood Educator, I’ve worked with hundreds of children and families closely. I’m well aware of how it feels to be an adult, guiding a situation with a child. Mood, earlier events, inside and outside influences, they can quickly shift the direction we take when working with a small human. Therefore, constantly speaking and acting from a place of calm and compassion is almost always a challenge.
When we feel like being angry, we have to have the strength and vision to reshape that feeling (see more about how to do that). As any parent or caregiver knows or will know, it doesn’t always work. Like any person does, as teachers we fail sometimes. Watching over a child feels like the need for sainthood and yet we just end up being human.
One day we’re what we used to be, responsible for just ourselves, only brushing one set of teeth and bathing one body. The next day brings a new world full of diapers, feedings and deprivation of sleep and other useful activities (Dad, I’ll give your sleep deprived brain a second on that one). Our sense of timing, completely thrown. Our sense of self, completely revamped. Our sense of protection, raised to unparalleled heights.
In other words, to guide a child through this world takes a mind blowing amount of change, energy and selflessness.
I’m certainly not one of those people who believes you have to raise a child to have a meaningful life. Everyone can contribute to forward, positive, communal movement, with our without a small one in tow. But what I also know is a new kind of fulfillment that I couldn’t have imagined at a time when I assumed I would never have children.
My little girl is now seventeen months old. She’s changed who I am and who I want to be. I’ve been a writer for years. I could write an entire book about how I feel about her and still only scratch the surface. Her care takes something from me every single moment I exist. Sleep gets lost, items get broken, ears ring and 2.4 hairs go grey every hour. But for every one thing she takes (that I now consider trivial), she gives back 100 that bring energy, light and a love that’s beyond human language.
Congratulations Dad on this Father’s day. Congratulations to all who help raise a child. You’re officially an artist working in the medium called life. Every time you give a kind word to the child, grab that little hand out of love or wash that little head, you do something worth writing an article about. Every second you put into one child’s future changes everyone else’s, forever.