On Growing Independence

  by Erik Wolgemuth

I’m starting to realize that the best dadcraft has loss as a close companion. I’m starting to realize that being an empty nester begins long before possessions are packed up and rooms are vacated. And I’m starting to realize that fatherhood means there’s an ironic joy and delight that pairs with hurt and loss.

My kids aren’t that old, but in recent months I’ve watched seeds of independence start to take root in their lives. Books once read out-loud have become solo endeavors. Games I may have once facilitated and guided are now enjoyed with siblings and peers. Walks that used to end in piggyback rides because they stretched just a bit too far for little legs are now easily accomplished.

I’ve started to miss things far earlier than I expected. The richness and joy of raising kids means that there are always things appearing and then growing smaller in the rearview mirror of life. And yet, at the same time, I love this new stage of growing independence and sufficiency that we’re venturing into. 

How many times as a dadcraftsman have you been told, “Enjoy this. The years go fast.”? Innumerable, right? Me too. And, well, I guess that’s become the thing to say to parents because…it’s true. And the reality of that is both a loss and a celebration.

On a night recently my kids were eating dinner on their own, while I recounted for them the blurry-eyed months of having them as newborns in the house. Sleeping in increments of a couple hours, eagerly climbing back into bed only to hear that baby no longer sleeping like one. I miss those days…and I don’t. I miss feeding puréed orange [foodstuffs] to a highchair-confined toddler…and I love sitting around the table in genuine conversation with kids who are properly handling utensils.

There is no joy like the joy of fatherhood. There is no regularity of loss like the loss associated with fatherhood. And it seems like the best dadcraftsmen I’ve met live right in the middle of the tension. Not pining for days that won’t return or those in the season yet to come. 

We can’t overemphasize the importance of learning from other dads, so make sure you check out these interviews we’ve done with a number of fine dadcraftsman. 

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Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash