Reflections on Turning Three

My son had his third birthday today. His favorite phrases are, “I don’t like that,” “Daddy, play…RIGHT NOW,” and, “look at my poo poo.” This day also (not coincidentally) marks my third anniversary of being a father. As this day closes, I want to reflect briefly on my thoughts on fatherhood.

I don’t think that you’re ever really prepared for parenthood. You can read all the books. You can attend all the classes. But there is something incredibly magical (and terribly frightening) when it actually happens that is utterly surprising.

You don’t realize how much you’re going to love them. It’s a love that goes beyond instinct or mere biological connection. It’s a love asleep in the very deepest part of our soul and awakened when we first hold that child in our arms. It’s a love that can only come from God, perhaps a remnant of the imago Dei that was so deeply wounded when mankind fell into sin.

There is something of a bittersweet feeling that wells up inside of me as my son matures and passes from Toddler to Preschooler. While I am overwhelmed with pride and wonder as he learns and grows, a part of me mourns the gradual deterioration of seemingly pure innocence and unconditional love that a young child exhibits so readily.

I’ll miss the way he comes into our bed early in the morning to spend the rest of his night with his mother and me. I’ll grieve when his constant friend and companion, “Bo” the bear is cast aside as his sense of confidence and independence grows. I’ll miss the times he wakes up crying after a bad dream and falls back asleep in my arms when I go to comfort him. And I’ll mourn his loss of innocence as he puts away his toys and becomes encumbered by the realities and hardships of this fallen world.

And yet, I also eagerly anticipate his growth. I will sit with him in amazement at each new thing he learns. I’ll stand with pride as he matures and grows into a man of principle and integrity. And God willing, I’ll rejoice with him when he commits his life to following Jesus.

Most of all, Gareth, I’m proud to be your Daddy. You’ve given me so much in these first years of your life. You’ve given me joy, made me laugh, and taught me patience. And, ultimately, you’ve made me a better person.

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