I love being a dad. My wife and I have four children, and though that sometimes leads to a hectic life, it is still the most rewarding thing we've ever done.
Time and time again, I get to meet young soon to be fathers and mothers that assure me that the addition of a child to their lives will only be a short pause in their fishing. I laugh and assure them that that will not be the case. But not for the reasons that they think.
I adore taking my children fishing, it allows me to be selfish. Selfish with their time in their, oh to brief, childhoods. I have realized that each phase of their little journeys is quite unique and special and that taking them fishing allows me to have one on one time to see them interact with the world around them.
I especially love taking them to wade creeks. April and I call them our little river otters. I love watching them play and swim. Seeing the wonder on their faces for small things like crawfish and tadpoles and watching them chase river darters and redhorses. I simply wade ahead a bit, I'm sure that they spook far more fish than I manage to catch. They are explorers. And all those spooked fish due to swimming and splashing and skipping stones, they'll be there next time when I come back alone. But I don't want these moments to dart off like so many spooked fish. On these days, my creel is different.
The first year with a new child is what I have come to refer to as a year without fish. And I'm ashamed to admit it but, I hated that. I was almost resentful of the time taken from me in the places I love, by this tiny new person that has taken up residence in our home. I'm even more ashamed to admit that it wasn't until my third child that I really took note of just how fast that year, and each following year, moves with them. I didn't appreciate it.
You can chalk this realization up to seeing just how much they have changed week to week and month to month. I think too however that my own age has something to do with that. I am finally noticing how fast my world is moving, and like Frost lamented, I doubt that I will ever go back to walk down the other road.
So now my advise to those new soon to be parents is just this, the rivers will still be there, the tides will still move in and out, and there are more foggy mornings yet to come than they will ever get to see. I know how tough it is, but I promise you will even miss the nights with no sleep, the teething, the fussing, having to rock them to sleep. Those moments are fleeting, just like a fish being released from a net.
Photo Credits are to my beautiful wife, April. Without you none of this journey would be possible!