[This is an interview I did with Dad of Divas about fatherhood. An earlier version of this interview was originally posted on his Dads in the Limelight series. I was the 351st dad that he has interviewed.]
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight.)
My name is Tim, and I’m a cheerful pessimist. I’ve worked in logistics and non-profit, and now work in social media, marketing, and writing. 5 years ago I proposed to my girlfriend with a goat (and no diamond ring), and she said yes. We’ve been married for almost 5 years and have a 19 month old daughter. My wife and I have a blog with a slowly growing number of readers (we’re currently at 10,000 unique visitors every month). We blog about thoughtful marriage, parenting, and life, and that’s the main way I’m in the limelight.
2) Tell me about your family.
My wife Olive is an introvert and an optimist – she complements me well (a.k.a. we butt heads sometimes). My daughter Alena is a joyful, cautious, and curious toddler.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
The hardest thing is giving up much of my freedom and my preferences to care for my child. Getting married was already a difficult lesson in learning to love, in not always demanding my own way. With a child, that lesson multiplies, and I have to grow up quickly and stop living selfishly.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Be intentional about taking time to stop and enjoy the great moments of fatherhood, like holding a sleeping baby, or listening to your child laugh. Keep those moments ingrained in your memory, because they will help you get through the difficult and tiring times of fatherhood. Also, learn to make decisions together with your wife or partner – to raise a child well, you need to be on the same team and work well together.
5) Seeing that you are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
Balance is probably not the word I would use to describe my life. It would be more accurate to say that I attempt to have balance. Part of this is understanding that one of my main roles in life is to be a husband to my wife, and a father to my daughter. These are my priorities. But more important than that, I must take care of myself. Because if I am not healthy (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc), then that will diminish my ability to be a good husband and a good father. In terms of outside life, I have lessened my involvement in many activities to have more time and energy to be a father. But I have had to be conscious of being involved in activities that give me life, and energize me, and help me grow as a person.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
I’ve learned that one of the most important things about being a father is having a vibrant and growing marriage with your spouse.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
One idea that my wife and I are doing is writing letters to my daughter in a notebook. We are writing down things that we have noticed about her – who she is, what she is good at, what she is interested in, at this early age. Our hope is that these provide clues for her in the future, as she is trying to figure out who she is and what she is meant to do with her life.
We got this idea from Parker Palmer’s insightful book, Let Your Life Speak. In it he talks about how he is writing letters to his granddaughter, and will give them to her on her 18th birthday with this note:
“Here is a sketch of who you were from your earliest days in this world. It is not a definitive picture – only you can draw that. But it was sketched by a person who loves you very much. Perhaps these notes will help you do sooner something your grandfather did only later: remember who you were when you first arrived and reclaim the gift of true self.”
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Dropping my daughter (twice). It wasn’t a great memory… but it’s forever ingrained in my head. I write about this unpleasant experience (and many more unpleasant and pleasant times) in my recent book, Then Came The Baby: The Wonder, Mayhem, and Hilarity of Our First Year as Parents, which I wrote with my wife. A more pleasant experience was hearing my daughter laugh for the very first time. I think it’s one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.