In the blogosphere its almost mandatory to write a post with your “bucket list”. I’m sure you know what a “bucket list” is, but just to be on the safe side – its a list of things to do before you die (“kick the bucket”). Some call it a “wish list” or “list of things to do before I’m 40”, it all boils down to the same – a list of cool stuff you’ll do some day.
Me – I am not a big fan of the “bucket list” concept. Yes, I too have a whole list of places I want to visit and things I would like to do some day, like visiting Paris (after 12 years living within 3 hours train ride from Paris I still didn’t get around to go there). But publishing it sounds so… silly is the word I am looking for, I guess. Because what will happen if I write them all down in public and end up not doing any of them? Even if I will do lots of really cool stuff instead, it would still feel like sort of a failure. Besides, if I’d publish it, I’d have to maintain it – crossing off things I’ve done, adding new ideas – and I’m just too lazy for that.
I write this blog mainly to share the experiences I have already had, so instead of a bucket list, I thought I’d write about some of the coolest things I’ve done. I even made a draft post, telling about how I quit smoking, climbed the Mont Blanc (was very cool, but the Weisshorn was a much bigger challenge) rafted the wild rivers of the Altai mountains, got a degree in rocket science, worked on a pearl farm in the Pacific, travelled around the world and so on. But then I thought – hang on, why am I doing this? Why not just go for the Big Prize, describing that one experience that surpasses all the other ones, the most awesome experience ever?
In the past year, I’ve been living in a whole different kind of experience, one that just keeps growing and becomes more and more amazing with each day, even as I think it just can’t get any better – fatherhood. Among my friends here in Holland, I am the first to have a child. Especially in the past few weeks, as we were celebrating my daughter’s first birthday, I was often asked how it feels being a father, and whether I miss all those things I could just do when I didn’t spent most of my time changing diapers and cleaning milk bottles. Things like, well, pretty much everything – sleep, going to the movies, having a night out, basically what some perceive as “having a life”
Honestly – I don’t miss it all that much. Well, to be completely honest, part of the reason I don’t miss it is that I actually still do all those things. This is largely thanks to my daughter being such a wonderful child, that sleeps up to 13 hours straight. Having a lovely and understanding wife, and fairly sharing the responsibilities helps a lot, too. Most of all – I don’t miss the pre-fatherhood life because being a father is so much fun. In fact, it was a huge surprise to me that it can be so enjoyable.
I thought that it would take 3-4 years before being a father really becomes something you can call “fun”. But I was totally wrong – I was having the time of my life from day 1. And I’m not going to pretend changing diapers is “fun” – it is not. There are some who claim that if its your own child, it doesn’t smell, or at least is not so bad. That’s just nonsense. It smells, and badly. The nice part is that you get to see how happy your child becomes when he or she is clean and dry, and there’s nothing more rewarding in the world than making your baby happy.
Yes, there are times when you have to get up at night because your baby is crying. Not fun at all when you’re getting up for the umptheenth time and its 4 in the morning. On the other hand, then I think about what its like to be a baby. You’re alone in your bed, perhaps not even hurting but just waking up from a bad dream, you can’t even speak, its dark and you’re really-really scared. You cry and then, out of the dark, comes a friendly giant that picks you up, cuddles you, whispers calming words in your ear, and rocks you back to sleep. Well, I get to be the friendly giant (I am only 1.73 tall, and don’t get to be a giant that often, so its an added bonus) . I am the stuff fairy tales are made of. For my one-year old daughter, I am absolutely all-mighty. And she adores me like a god – that smile on her face when she wakes up and sees me is better than all the wildest parties in the world that I missed because I have to be there for her in the morning.
There’s a song by Matti Caspi called “My Second Childhood”. And its not about being senile – its about re-living ALL your experiences together with your child as he or she grows up. When you think of it, its pretty amazing. I mean, do you remember learning how to walk? Or tasting an orange for the first time? Touching a cat, hearing a bicycle bell, smelling a banana, seeing a teddy bear “clap” his paws (extremely funny) – think about doing all these things for the first time, but now being aware that it’s the first time you’re doing it. That’s what it’s like to be a father – and it’s the most awesome experience ever.