A father gives his baby girl a kiss


All I Want to Do Is Give My Daughter Everything She Requires to Be Happy

Jan 25, 2019

Recently, my one-and-a-half year old daughter began waking up at 5:30 a.m. That’s only about an hour earlier than usual but, as plenty of parents can attest, it’s a fairly crucial hour.

This change to our household’s sleep pattern has been happening more and more — on the darkest, wintry mornings.

And just like any other time I’ve felt my fuse was a little short, the guilt of imperfect parenting has found a way of setting in. So, after one of last week’s early rises, as she happily ate her banana and we sat on the kitchen floor colouring, I thought about how I react when our daily routine is disrupted. 

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Even without surprises, the repetition of everyday life can create tension and a sense of time passing us by. It’s easy to compare the freewheeling pre-child days of the past with the demanding reality of the present and to feel overwhelmed by it all. It’s easy, but unproductive. I take a deep breath and watch my daughter enjoy her breakfast, trying to tap into some stress-relief tactics.

As we sat there on the floor, I delighted in the simple pleasure of observing my kid as she went about her morning rituals. She has certain foods she wants to eat, certain stuffed animals to check in with before daycare, clothes she’s excited to wear and songs she loves to sing.

"Finding zen requires self-control and, while it’s thought of as a state of personal peace, I find that tranquility comes mostly from acting for the benefit for others."

Before I could realize the good in front of me, I needed to accept the anxiety I had felt with another early wake up. And I needed to process that stress. And after that, I noticed my grogginess quickly fading as my wife and I shared the joy of watching our little one continue to grow before our very eyes, and I felt grateful to be a part of even those smallest of moments. 

Finding zen requires self-control and, while it’s thought of as a state of personal peace, I find that tranquility comes mostly from acting for the benefit for others. And what better setting for this dynamic than the parent/child relationship? When I started to frame my frustration in these terms, much of it was lifted. With a reframed focus on embracing normal behaviours that could otherwise be viewed as annoyances, I was able to get more out of family time.

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I went to a concert a few nights ago, even though I was pretty sleepy. While watching the band play and yawning up a storm, I had a wave of realization not unlike many I’ve felt since becoming a dad: I’d rather miss every concert if it means having the energy, presence and patience that my daughter’s ultimate happiness requires. Sure, selflessness expands the second your baby is born, but it’s important to leave room for further devotion as they grow. I believe it’s an effort worth maintaining and one that — in an ideal world — would continue to expand forever.

I’m not the perfect parent. I doubt that any of us are. But I can push myself to make improvements and I can lighten up the daily routine with small, purposeful attempts to evolve. This week, I’m going to bed earlier. Because no matter what time my kid wakes up, she deserves the best.

Article Author Dan Warry-Smith
Dan Warry-Smith

Dan Warry-Smith is a writer, producer and performer from Toronto with over two decades of diverse experience in the entertainment industry. Dan can be heard discussing the intricacies of fatherhood on Big Poppas: The Podcast For Modern Dads, or singing songs with his daughter while pushing her stroller around the city.

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