The eternal question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
My grandparents asked me this question when I was eight years old when nothing else seemed to matter to me other than action figures. My parents asked me this in middle school when nothing else seems to matter to me other than my baseball card collection. My school counselor asked me this question before I went to college when nothing else seems to matter to me other than girls. My advisor asked me this in college when nothing else seemed to matter to me other than sorority girls or the next Greek function.
My answers to this question over the years were about as diverse as you could get. For many years I wanted to play professional baseball. Then I wanted to be a disc jockey. Then I wanted to be an actor. Then I wanted to be a doctor. Then I wanted to be a detective. Then I wanted to work for Chippendales. Then I wanted to be a fireman. Then I wanted to be an engineer.
The list went on and each time there was something standing in my way… something that made the accomplishment “impossible” (in my mind) to obtain.
“You mean I have to go to school for, like… 10 years to be a doctor? Screw that.”
“You mean I have to move to California and put in all this time getting an agent, getting head shots, trying out for small roles, etc. all while working as a waiter to make ends meet? No thanks. I just want to get ‘discovered’!”
“You mean to be a professional baseball player I have to work on fielding ground balls, take batting practice every day, study the strategy of the game and be in peak physical condition? I just want to be naturally gifted.”
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Now I’m 30… and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be… until just yesterday.
I took this video of Daddy’s Little Girl:
The end is what got me. I didn’t purposefully end it that way… it just kind of happened. I wanted to get her to hug me… something she’s just started doing on a level where she understands what it means! She normally doesn’t do it unless I pretend like I’m crying. I wind up pretending like I’m crying a lot because as a father… many of the things you dreamed of your little girl doing to show her appreciation are finally coming to fruition. I wouldn’t want her to not hug me if I was really crying… she’s actually showing me that she wants me to feel better!
Later that evening in her darkened bedroom, as I was almost ready to lay her down to go to sleep, I asked her to give me a hug and she did… I didn’t even have to pretend like I was crying.
She opened her arms and put them around my shoulders, then nuzzled her head in the nape of my neck. I tilted my head to lay it on her baby soft cheek. We sat there for a little while humming to each other. Then, with both of my arms around her little body, I gave her a little love squeeze and whispered, “I love you so much.”
Much to my surprise she started to answer me back, “I louuuuu…” Her voice tailed off as she realized she wasn’t able to say what I just said… but it didn’t matter… I knew what she was trying to say and she had already said it through her hug. The words will come soon enough.
It was at this moment that I realized I’d finally found out what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to be a good father.
Unlike any of the other jobs I aspired as a child, teenager, college partier or a “barely functioning member of society”… this is a job from which I could not escape… even if I wanted to. Sure… I could run and I could hide but that would never change the fact that DLG was my daughter, my little girl, my angel and my responsibility!
Sometimes some of the simplest thoughts are the product of days, weeks, months or years of sleepless nights, endless stress and tired brains. My epiphany was nothing new… I always knew I would be there for her but waiting for the results of my endless love directed at her… sometimes felt like they were too far away.
Like a doctor studies for years to become a practitioner or an actor gets a few fast food commercials on his way to become an A-list movie star or a baseball player spends endless time playing the game to wind up playing for a major league team… I’m just now starting to really reap the benefits of my hard work, stress, anxiety and plethora of other draining human emotions.
“This is the job I’ve been preparing for my whole life!” I thought to myself.
Everything else is secondary. Everything else isn’t near as important as being able to come home and look into those deep blue eyes yelling for me as I come through the door… nothing.
I love this job.