Welcome to fatherhood. I’m so happy for you and your new family, I can’t stop smiling. I can’t and won’t offer any advice you probably haven’t already received. What I will do, however, is start by telling you to stop worrying, you’ll do fine.
Before the little man was born, I’d heard that meeting your child for the first time is the single most magical moment of a person’s life. This is, in fact, true. When I saw your screaming little nephew, everything I’d ever been or thought of myself – well, that went out the window and I wept with him. I thought, “This is my son?” Through my tears, and his hungry cries, which were surprisingly loud, the only thing I could think to say was, “Hello, Ryan, I’m your Appa.” I kept saying that over and over, because I could scarcely believe that it was true.
I wouldn’t trade any of it: holding him while he cried after a shot at the doctor’s, changing untold thousands of diapers, late night feedings, watching him grow into his gangly long-limbed body, but his smile most of all. I can’t wait for you to experience all of this, and the pure joy that will be your daughter’s smile. When Sophie does that, I feel validated, and I’ve got a feeling you will, too.
There’s an old saying in the South that good people make good parents. To borrow a line from “Peanuts,” you’re a good man, Charlie Brown. Lord knows, it won’t be easy, but I have the sense that you’ll be intuitively good at the parenting gig. It will be worth all the monumental effort, the sleeplessness, the occasional helpless feeling of “oh my God, what do I do now?” You may have already discovered a depth of feeling, an untapped capacity to love, that you might have thought didn’t exist before. Embrace that, focus it, and this too becomes almost a fatherhood muscle memory.
You’ll be a great father, and your daughter will love you for it. But in a couple of years, you’re on your own with potty training.