Daddy Days: One baby step at a time

·2 min read
Whether it’s teaching manners, work ethic, responsibility or integrity regularly, the constant little efforts don’t seem like they’re accomplishing anything. But they slowly are.
Whether it’s teaching manners, work ethic, responsibility or integrity regularly, the constant little efforts don’t seem like they’re accomplishing anything. But they slowly are.

In parenting, as in life, growth and change are often incremental. It’s hard to chip away at or maintain the drive to accomplish large things that can only be done one step at a time and yet that’s the reality of most meaningful undertakings.

From redwood trees to skyscrapers, from the electrical grid to reading "War and Peace," each huge result comes from a multitude of little efforts. Instant weight loss, instant money growth or instant muscle gain are incredibly attractive prospects for the same reason they are equally dubious: experience tells you that’s not how things typically work.

You’re going to have to put in the time and effort to see the big end result. Each individual effort is a drop in the bucket, but you can’t fill the bucket without drops. And parents have expended a lot of drops.

Often it seems like those drops go down the drain. Whether it’s teaching manners, work ethic, responsibility or integrity regularly, the constant little efforts don’t seem like they’re accomplishing anything. Kind of like looking at a single 2x4 on the ground layer of a skyscraper.

And yet you know that each 2x4 is important and all together they’re essential to building the final product.

This is hard on parents when it comes to maturity and emotional growth. It can sure seem like those 2x4s of effort are piling up and yet there’s been no growth or change. It can seem like the 8-year-old still acts like he did when he was 6 and that your efforts have all been for naught. But don’t stop building.

Parents are familiar with the phenomenon where you see someone after a month’s absence and they’re blown away at how big or tall your child is now. You, who have been present for every single one of those days, didn't notice a difference. However in reality it’s true, your child has grown. Strangely, some distance is needed to appreciate the growth.

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. The days are long but the years are short. Don’t stop believin’. OK that last one is just a Journey lyric, but you get the point.

It’s not a particularly complicated concept, and there are countless cliches referring to it. Yet we quickly forget today’s efforts usually don’t accomplish anything today. And that each day is just a step on the path to those many tomorrows parents are working toward.

One drop, one step, one day at a time. Parenting. Life.

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please email comments or suggestions for future columns to thoughtsforcaleb@gmail.com.

Caleb Harris
Caleb Harris

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Daddy Days: One baby step at a time