There is an extra Father's Day gift for us older new dads. It seems that scientists have discovered how our offspring may enjoy a longer life the older the birth father happens to be. According to the study, the responsible factor resides in the genetic structure of sperm; something called telomeres that increase in length as males age.
Obviously, I think this is all good, but I feel that being an older new dad brings with it some clear benefits that hopefully will have just as much positive impact on our children's health, well being and longevity. I was 58 years old when my son Oliver was born the day after Christmas last year. I also have two adult children, the last one born almost 24 years ago. With the march of time, I am clearly a much different parent than I was in my 30s -- and much to the better I hope.
While I was a no less a devoted parent in my younger days, there is a big difference now. Today, I do not take anything for granted -- and time is a far more precious commodity that's not to be wasted. Priorities are far different. My career track and fitting the mold of what the outside world may expect of me is way, way down the list of concerns. When I was a new parent last time, I was also spending an inordinate amount of time trying to figure things out, testing to see where talents, if any, would be best applied and where joy and fulfillment may be. By now, things have been honed down to a wonderful formula that still leaves plenty of room for discovery with much less head-banging against walls.
Writing these words is punctuated with naps and interruptions by feedings and diaper changes. My wife has returned to work in her career as a veterinarian, so for a good part of the week I have the incredible privilege of being Mr. Mom. It is strange how society still seems to have a problem with men being a stay-at-home parent. Sometimes, I also feel like I'm doing something wrong by not "being productive" as our society teaches. Thankfully, there is a very easy cure in the smiles, giggles and each new milestone as he discovers his ever-expanding universe. These first few months are when the brain develops at a furious gallop. Making the lifestyle adjustments to be a hands-on nurturer during this critical period is no sacrifice as many may think given the enormous upside.
I'll take the good news that being an older dad may give my son a longer life -- but I hope our precious time together right now will also count for something down the road. Oops, he just woke up. Got to run.