Before you become a parent, everyone says to you "it's gonna change everything". What you don't realize, can't realize, is what exactly "everything" really means.
Sure, in the beginning you get a lot less sleep, and you're pretty much chained to the house 24/7. Those are no-brainers. You can probably also comprehend loving something as much as you do your child. Again, not a great mental leap.
Of course, "everything" means the little things too. The really un-obvious ones. Allow me to offer an illustration from my recent past.
Several months ago, I went to a wedding for the first time since becoming a dad. No, not that one. It was before that. The Wife couldn't go, so it was just me. Again, it was a shipmate, so I was in my Full Dress Blues, looking awfully dapper and manly. If I do say so myself.
Everything was going swimmingly right up until the father of the bride arrived at the end of the aisle with his daughter on his arm. It was at that moment I realized that someday I was likely to find myself in that position. It was a strange amalgam of fear, resignation, hope, and joy.
So there I was, flanked on either side by fellow Naval Officers, resplendent exemplars of the best America has to offer, and I'm trying my best to remain composed. From what I recall, I faked stifling a sneeze to explain the sudden un-dryness in the ocular regions of my face. At least I retained some of my dignity. I'm just glad we (as ushers) were seated in the back of the room.
I thought my father-in-law might have enjoyed or at least related to this story, so I called him the next day.
When I got done, you know what he said?
"When it was my turn, it wasn't hard at all."
That may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me...