Some 14 years ago, at a basement party at Brandeis, I had a chance encounter with a lovely, smiling, somewhat sarcastic 19-year-old. Three years later we were married, a year after that we had our first child, and now we are 10 years—and four kids—into our parenting adventure.
When we first met, I had never held a baby, taught a formal class or met any girl I could envision marrying. But very quickly I realized that she was a great teacher and would be a wonderful mother. A little while later, I knew she would be Mrs. Brosgol.
Most of what I have learned about parenting or teaching young kids I learned from her. Watching her with preschoolers and kindergarteners, kids she babysat, and her nieces and nephews, I could not have had a better mentor.
Now that I have grown as a parent, I am often asked what I like most about being a dad.
It’s a tricky question and almost too broad to answer. I love morning snuggles, catch in the front yard, snow-day adventures, my kids’ pure joy when we take them out to dinner, and the evolution of their Red Sox and Boston sports fandom. I love short trips to Maine, taking hikes at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, bike rides on the Minuteman Bikeway and welcoming Shabbat.
But what gives me the greatest satisfaction is seeing them out in the world, doing and achieving things, especially on their own. With the baby, that’s hard, but the cuteness of a baby exploring her surroundings, oblivious to anything or anyone else, is entirely pristine and enjoyable.
I love when my 3-year-old races into her preschool classroom to get going with an art project, a princess project, or to share her new sparkly shoes with the world.
I love when my 7-year-old, forever striving to be as old and grown-up as his older brother, can spend two hours at a soccer or baseball game having fun, playing with other kids or helping the older kids warm up. I love how he is at ease in any environment, happy-go-lucky to a fault and completely content in his own skin.
And I love when my almost-10-year-old tackles challenges and is able to show the world how amazing he is. Whether that’s with his violin on stage, in his articles in the school paper, or on the baseball field as he develops into a talented player, nothing makes me happier than seeing him—and his siblings—leave the nest and be happy, confident, risk-taking kids.
As Arik Einstein, in the famous Israeli song “Uf Gozal,” reminds us, eventually all children leave their nests—and their parents—as they grow. It’s a sad truth, and they begin that process the moment they leave the safety of the womb and emerge, crying and cold, into the world.
Rather than feel melancholy about it, as a father I celebrate, smile and cry at their successes, failures, trials and accomplishments in the wide world outside our home.
So this Father’s Day, I hope all the dads out there get to see their kids be happy and amazing. In truth, that’s all I want.
This post originally appeared in the CJP Families with Young Children newsletter for June. For more information on that initiative, or to sign up to receive the newsletter, click here.