COLUMN: Happy early Father’s Day from a new dad

by matthew hankey

Sun sailor Newspapers


Last month, one of my wife’s aunts said she was looking forward to reading my Father’s Day column. I smiled and thought, “That’s interesting. I didn’t know I was writing such a column, but I thank you for the suggestion.”

Now that I think about it, her comment was made on Mother’s Day, so I can see the genesis and logic behind her suggestion. Nevertheless, my mind flashed back to my first nine months of fatherhood and an uneasy feeling came over me.

I felt overwhelmed with how to sum up nearly a year of sleepless nights (that gave way to restful nights), dirty diapers (that remained dirty) and the innumerable changes in my life and to my family.

This column may be a week early, but as I have learned, timing and planning will only take you so far in parenting. My wife is a self-described planner, while I prefer to go with the flow, which I learned takes on a new meaning with a newborn.

We nixed many of our initial plans for our son and had to quickly come to terms with changing on the fly, which we literally did on a flight to Mexico. While we planned for our son to sleep for the duration of the four-hour flight, he had other plans.

We planned for our son to be pacifier-free, but he ended up using one from day one and beyond. He was going to have a diet of solely breast milk, but those plans changed too.  He was going to sleep in our room for an indefinite period of time. After a week, we moved him to his own room for everyone’s sanity.

Our plans changed, and so did we.

Happy hours with friends turned into hours trying to keep our baby happy. Late nights socializing turned into late nights wondering how much sleep we could sneak in between feedings.

With any change comes an adjustment period, which can be turbulent and frightening. I am happy to report I have use of all my faculties and my wife still enjoys my company (most days).

What is most important is our son is healthy and happy. And, as my first Father’s Day approaches, I have much to be thankful for.

Before my son was born, all I wanted was a healthy child. I don’t take that fact for granted because there are many children born with medical issues.

I have learned that being a father requires time, patience and more time. Looking back, I wish I would have taken more time off work to be at home during my son’s first weeks of life. But even if I had, it wouldn’t have been enough.

There are days when, believe it or not, I’d rather stay at home and immerse myself in a world of colorful toys and crawling on the floor than come to work. But, I’m also thankful to be employed and able to provide for my family. Being a dad, I have found, is about making tough choices and sacrifices.

Let me be the first to wish all you dads an early Happy Father’s Day. I know we have much to be thankful for.



Contact Matthew Hankey at [email protected]