It’s no secret that, before my daughter was born, I never wanted to be a father. Despite the fact that I was raised without a father—and thus thought that I was lacking some kind of natural fathering ability gained by osmosis from one’s own sire—I also thought that I was far too selfish to be a parent. The idea of my daughter’s needs coming first before my own seemed both like a raw deal and something I could never do.
For example, my career trajectory was forever altered. While I was working in a sales job at the time, I had every intention of going back to school and pursuing a writer’s life. Yet (unfortunately) to earn a living through creative writing, one must pay his or her dues by doing a lot of work for little-to-no money. There was no way I could pursue that full-time and support a child.
Even though I fell in love with my daughter the first time I looked into her eyes, I still have moments where I wracked with regret over the choices I made that led to her being born. Yet for years, I chained myself to various cubicles doing work I didn’t care about and was rarely very good at doing. Yet, I realized I was doing more important work at home.
Where I was professionally unfulfilled, the time I spent with my daughter helped me forget any unhappiness I had with work. On weekends—when I could have been writing—I instead ran around the house with her for hours playing Lazer Tag or doing some kind of artwork. Now that we’ve traded Lazer Tag for Minecraft, I sometimes find myself actually missing the days when I wasn’t doing what I loved, but could punch a clock and not care about work until the next morning.
Also, unsurprisingly, being a parent has given me not only a better perspective from which to write and a new audience to speak to! What was once thought of as the doom of my aspirations of professional creative writing, may now be the subject of a book-length project. There is no doubt that the idea I dreaded—children’s needs coming first—has made me a better writer and much better person.
It can be hard to sacrifice for your children, and it isn’t always necessary. However, putting what’s best for them first pays unimagined dividends. A parent never realizes how good it is to feel pride at a child’s accomplishments or see the joy in them as they participate in an activity they love. And, really, it’s the only time in their lives where they have that kind of priority. Eventually they will be sacrificing too, for their own children.