What It’s Like As a Dad

This morning I was putting my shoes on to run outdoors for a quick five-minute errand. From across the apartment my daughter Thuy saw me preparing to leave and started waving and wishing me an energetic “G’bye! G’bye!” She’s just a few days shy of twenty-two months old now, and so her mother and I still find this relatively new level of articulateness and situational acuity impressive and adorable.

I assured her I’d be back quickly, then opened the front door and started stepping out of the apartment, but just then she ran over to me with a sudden urgency and said “Kiss!” She tugged on my hand to get me to kneel down, and then gave me a tiny peck on the cheek before saying “G’bye!” again.

It was a wonderful little Father’s Day moment, but more than that it helped crystallize for me what this feeling of having this little girl in my life is like. Before parenthood I was preoccupied with escaping mundanity; in my relationships, in my work, in my ambitions of all kinds, I labored to free myself of daily trivialities and strive for bigger and better things. Now the world looks very different. When a quotidian non-event like walking out the front door can become something to cherish for a lifetime, it makes me realize that there is grand import hidden in every little detail of every day, and that in fact the mundane can be unspeakably amazing. Being a parent does this to you.

Happy Father’s Day, everybody.

  1. Thanks for sharing, Khoi… I’ve been a dad now for a mere 4 weeks, and already I’ve realized how even the littlest things (a sudden smile during a dramatic crying fit) can make my day. Cheers!

  2. Great post, Khoi. I’ve been a mom for 24 months and I often wonder to myself, why did I wait so long to be a parent (I’m nearly 39)?! Had I known what you described so beautifully above then, I would’ve jumped in the parent pool at least five years earlier! Happy papa’s day, indeed.

  3. Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been feeling about being a dad for 6 months now. Accepting and relishing mundanity over bigger, better, further, is a rude shock. The acceptance and ensuing enjoyment makes it all worthwhile.

  4. Inspired post Khoi, I am expecting my first any moment now and your words really struck a chord, thank you.

  5. entirely understood. here’s turning the banal into magnificence… we’re toilet training our son and just yesterday, while holding carrying his potty for proper disposal, i thought how parenthood is a part of humanity that those who don’t experience don’t get…

  6. Nice write-up! I have a 14 month old daughter, and you actually confirmed with those few lines what I was feeling for the past couple of months, and I couldn’t comprehend what it was. I’m a freelance designer but also looking for a full time job, and I was caught in the dilemma of trying to decide what I wanted as a job. Now I’m leaning more and more towards something that will let me enjoy my fatherhood, less and less toward a prestigious and high profile (more stressful) environment.

  7. Khoi,
    We just read your Father’s day moment! What a sweet gesture on Thuy’s part! Pretty amazing attention she shared with you!, But even more so is your emotional reaction and written words describing the meaning of what and how you are feeling as a father. You have a fascinating wee girl! She’s lucky to have such a sensitive father!

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