Nobody ever told me...
You will never fail so frequently and so spectacularly as when you are trying to be a father for the first time.
I used to see myself as someone who was mentally and physically tough. I can, and have, been through the gauntlet a few times and come out on the other side, no (or little) worse for wear. But I can honestly say that in my first 3 months of fatherhood, the feelings of inadequacy are overwhelming at times, and that the scars that are being painted on my mind, body and heart may fade, but their mark will last my lifetime.
Words of support and praise are readily available from family and friends, but I know better. I know better. Failure as a father is so much worse than any other kind. Two crying beings, helpless and new to this earth need your help and sometimes, no matter what you try, no matter how hard you try, you just can't make it better. It's gut wrenching, deflating, and it raises a lot of existential questions that, deep down you know don't have answers for, but you go down the path of self-doubt anyways. It's a dark path. I'm fortunate not to suffer from any disorders (that I'm aware of), but I image this is the tip of that iceberg.
Maybe this snowflake has been set up for failure all along. Admittedly, things always came easy for me; school, sports, friends, work, you name it. Not that I haven't worked hard, but I've been very fortunate along my life path in many areas, save for a few hiccups. But this, this is different. So much different than anything I've had to persevere through. Round the clock feeds, purple crying, balancing sleep deprivation with full time work and self preservation...it's enough to make anyone break. Except that there is no referee to tap too. No game to retire from. There is only moving forward.
But the most difficult reality to accept is the one where I'm not the most important person in their life. I can't fix everything, not by a long shot. The realization that I won't always be able to protect them and that at some point they'll need to fail, cry, and hurt, in order to grow and evolve, is a sobering one.
But for now I am the one failing. But not for lack of trying. But maybe it's in the "try" that there is success in my girls' eyes.
At least I hope so.