Today is my ninth Father’s Day. That is plenty long enough for habits and routines to become well worn. That is at least a thousand diapers. A thousand daycare pickups. A thousand water bottles filled. A thousand pieces of plain pasta cooked. A thousand soapy tubs emptied. As any parent knows these routines are critical for survival. These routines get us through the day with children on the bus, lunches packed, clothes laundered and bedtime stories read. They help us order our world.
It is impossible to see and feel all of those things for the first time, every time. If every experience brought that rush of the first experience, a single day would overwhelm and exhaust even the hardiest parent. If each day were full of firsts, my legs would crumple and my chest would heave with effort before noon.
Habits and routine are every parent’s secret weapon. I fear they are also dangerous. Habits can quickly make the extraordinary seem ordinary. If you’re not careful, you find yourself looking at the world through a dull, gray gauze. A whisper of brown hair is Ally. Flecks of aquamarine eyes is Cecilia. But did I see them? Really see them? Routine is an insatiable thing. It will consume the familiar and make the everyday seem mundane. They can blind you to the insane miracle of your children. Of being a father.