I’ve noticed a very interesting phenomenon over the years: some things become routine over time.

When I had my first beer, I made sure to hide it from my parents. I was exhilarated. It made me feel something (drunk). Now I can drink with my parents and it’s no big deal at all. I don’t even text my friends to brag about how wasted I got.

If you’d have told me all those years ago that something as insane as having kids would also change over time, boy… I’d probably believe you. But still, it’s been an interesting experience.

Here’s how some fatherly milestones looked for each of my kids.

three kid stress

Photos:

As a parent, you have to take photographs of your children. How else can you bother your friends who don’t have any of their own? How else will they know what a very tiny human looks like when they’re covered in cake lumps and wearing a tiny birthday hat?

Child #1: “We have enough photos and video to create a feature length film on our precious baby’s entire childhood! Let start the editing!”

Child #2: “She’s so cute! Get a picture! Try to get them both in…”

Child #3: “Is that him in the background? Maybe we should try to get a picture of him by himself once in a while.”

Clothing:

Clothing is one of the ways that I show off my irresistible swag. It’s also how I embarrass my kids.

One of the great joys of fatherhood is documenting the different outfits or—eyeroll emoji—the “phases” that are definitely not phases. Their styles change. So do my reactions.

Child #1: “She’s so cute in that little dress! Let’s get her more!”

Child #2: “Are there any of those dresses left that don’t have vomit stains on them?”

Child #3: “Boys used to wear dresses, right? There won’t be many pictures anyway…”

Falling down:

We’ve all been there. I haven’t fallen in years, but I’m sure it’s just around the corner. However, I don’t want anyone to document me when it happens. I’ll be embarrassed enough having to press that damned Life Alert button. But kids? Different story.

Child #1: “Oh my gosh! Are you ok sweetie? Here, let me blow on it for you and kiss it because my love will stop your pain! I vow to never let this happen again!”

Child #2: “Did she push you!? Are you ok? Let me brush it off. Don’t sweat it—this happens all the time.”

Child #3: “Rub some dirt on it and get back up. You’re not hurt. Stop crying.”

First Day of School:

This is one of those big moments. All the movies say so, and when have movies ever exaggerated anything?

Still, I noticed a definite difference between each of my children’s first days of school.

Child #1: “Do you want me to stay sweetheart? Is it ok if I stay for just the first day or two? I’ll just sit here. You won’t even notice me.”

Child #2: “Have fun at your first day of school! I’ll stay for a few minutes, but then I have to go. I love you!”

Child #3: “Follow your siblings. They’ll show you where to go. Yes, I know the car is still moving—tuck and roll! Tuck and roll!”

What Am I Missing?

As you can no doubt see, some of the excitement and wonder of raising children fades over time.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I don’t love Child #3 any less than I love Child #1. I also don’t love the above experiences with them any less. In fact, I would say I’ve gained a different appreciation for each experience (and how I’ve reacted to them).

Observing my different experiences with each child is fascinating. I get a richer, more complex, and layered perspective on fatherhood and what it’s like to raise children. It’s been one of my great joys.

That said, I don’t think I’m up for Child #4.

Did I miss anything? Let me know if the comments below. Or, if you’re not feeling so bold, follow another link below! We’re just overflowing with dadly wisdom, here.

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