Before Little Eliot Hartman Mooney was born, his parents were told that he would likely die in the womb. And after he was born, doctors told his parents he would probably never live to see his first birthday.
Eliot was born with Trisomy 18 syndrome, a rare condition characterized by an extra chromosome in the eighteenth position. Here’s a video tribute Eliot’s dad made for him. Be sure to keep reading below, because Matt Mooney can teach dads everywhere a thing or two about love, bravery, and fatherhood:
It is hard to follow this video with any of my own words, so let me borrow some of Matt Mooney’s words …
“We loved learning how to best take care of you,” his dad said of the 90-minute feeding process that restarted every three hours. And of his six-hour shift starting at 11 p.m., Matt said, “The best part of my day has begun.”
I think back on my earliest days as a father. I probably wasn’t the most involved, hands-on dad in the world then, but I managed to do my share of feeding my babies and rocking them to sleep. And there were some long nights and some difficulties along the way. I would like to say that I felt blessed during those times. But I’m not sure this was always the case. Quite often, I felt tired, frustrated, at wit’s end …
And through the years, my children have tested me in other ways. I have worried about the decisions my children make. On more occasions than I can count, I have spent hours on my knees in prayer on their behalf, pleading for their safety and seeking guidance about how to best take care of them.
In addition to all the joys and rewards along the way, being a dad also means feeling heartbreak, frustration, loss, sadness, fear, fatigue, confusion, and anger.
But when your resolve is being tested, remember: This is the best part of the day.
Sometimes we think there’s no good that can come from tests and challenges, but I know differently. Hard times often have a higher purpose, and then sometimes our perspective is off. Maybe we can start viewing the difficulties themselves as blessings, like Matt and his wife did.
Your children, no matter their age, are calling on you to rise to the occasion and learn to best take care of them. They need you to find the insight to meet their needs, whatever they are. Through their words or their actions—or perhaps through a situation of no one’s creation—children will test your courage.
And though the pain might seem too much to carry at times, you will be a stronger person because of the ache of fatherhood, not in spite of it.
Do you have a similar sentiment? What’s the best part of the day with your kids? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe here to receive our weekly email tips.