Patterico puts fatherhood in perspective in a blog entry that every parent should read. He reminisces about a particular trial of parenting a newborn that became a joyful experience and then explains how to he tries to live in the present and appreciate what he has.
And then I realized: some day, years in the future, I might be asking the same question about my life today — this very minute. If you could have this moment back to live over again, what would you do?
The rest of that evening, I pictured myself as having been sent into my body from the future, to relive the moments I was experiencing. And I saw everything differently. I sat on the couch and watched television with my arm around my wife — all the while imagining myself as an old man, transported back in time to relive that moment. And all of a sudden, what otherwise might have seemed like a mundane moment seemed like a privilege. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world, just sitting there with my wife.
I’ve tried the trick all weekend, and it really changes your outlook. Just sitting around with a sleepy child in your arms is great any way you look at it. But if you picture yourself as someone whose child has grown up — if you imagine yourself as an older man, who would give the world to be back in that chair with that child in his arms — it makes you realize how important the moment is. And you appreciate it more.
I’ve been doing that myself since reading this entry originally and it is quite effective. In 30 years, perhaps as I see Bella with her own children, maybe I’ll be looking back wishing that I could have just one more moment to hold her, even at 3 am when she’s woken up crying, needing her diaper changed, or at 5 am when she’s awake now and, dang it, everyone else has to be up too. But now I can take the time to appreciate these moments and live in the here and now, rather than worry about the future.
A father who gave everything for his family