Kyle Troutman: Lessons learned by being a dad

Saturday, June 19, 2021

About two-and-a-half years ago, I met a beautiful, intelligent, utterly captivating lass that sent my life in a direction I did not expect.

She had a penchant for macaroni and cheese, refused to be treated less than a princess by any man and was incredibly confident in everything she did. Although I had seen her around before, no moment in our lives so far (for me anyway) will match the first day her mother invited me to her house. She took me by the hand, demanded that I come to play and introduced me to her posse of baby dolls and dinosaurs.

My now-stepdaughter on that day, when she was just 3-years-old, gave me my first taste of what it would be like to be a dad. These days, I’ve settled pretty deep into the role, which is good because I have another change coming soon.

In the beginning of August — at the age of 33 — I will be a newborn father for the first time to our incoming daughter, Olivia. I always imagined having kids at a younger age, but as they say, “Man plans, God laughs.”

My wife and I got a late start in our relationship for traditional standards. Given our ages, we both decided if we were going to have more children, we wanted to do it soon, while were were still relatively young.

We planned to start that process on our honeymoon in January following our October 2020 wedding, but someone — I won’t name names — jumped the gun on the whole getting pregnant thing.

To my credit, I was not expecting it to happen as quickly as it did with how many people I know that have had struggles. Oops, I guess I gave myself away there.

Anyway, though there are bound to be millions of differences between our two daughters, there are fatherly points I have picked up over the last few years that will hopefully serve me well in the coming months and years.

First and foremost, I have learned to never be snackless. It is said children have two stomachs: one for breakfast-lunch-dinner that is a normal or smaller-than-normal size, and another for snacks that is as powerful as any interstellar black hole. If you don’t know what time it is as a parent, it’s probably snack time.

I have also learned that children are intuitive and have a unique way of looking at things and drawing conclusions. For example, in the months leading up to our wedding, we told our 5-year-old we would have a baby after we got married.

Randomly, my wife kept getting congratulations from folks in the community, many involved with the school where our kindergartner attends. We thought the congratulations were for the pending nuptials — they were not.

The kiddo had been telling everyone we were having a baby after the wedding in October, leading many to think my wife was already pregnant. In a 5-year-old’s mind, “We are having a baby after the wedding,” equated to, “We are bringing a baby home from the wedding.”

Even eight months later, we are still attempting to explain the wedding-baby difference. My sister got married a couple weeks ago, and our now-6-year-old has asked, “Where is her baby?”

There are many, many other lessons I have learned about children, but I frankly don’t have room to list them all.

I want to reserve the rest of this space to list some other things I’ve learned, things about myself.

Truthfully, I spent much of my 20s avoiding my current life. As a child of divorce, I was familiar with how difficult the stepparent role is. My siblings and I did not make it easy on my stepmother or my stepfather, and putting myself in that position was not something I was prepared to do for a long time.

At a certain point late in my 20s, I realized I was closing myself off to a world of opportunity. Some say that people never change, and in some regards, they don’t. But, in other regards, they greatly, greatly do.

Changing my perspective and overcoming my fear of instant fatherhood is one of the greatest personal emotional accomplishments of my life. Without changing, I would be missing out on the pancake breakfasts, Disney movie nights, dollhouse playtimes, nail-biting Jenga games, swimming pool tricks, hair and beard makeovers, YMCA soccer games, piggyback rides to bed, park picnics with grape-catching contests, holidays and birthdays full of sparkling eyes as gifts are unwrapped, and much, much more.

Fatherhood has been such a blessing and an adventure in my life, and I can’t wait to meet Olivia and see what more it has to bring.

To all veteran dads, instant dads, new dads and future dads, I hope you enjoy this Father’s Day as much as I will.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or editor@monett-times.com.

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