What does fatherhood mean to you?
Fatherhood means always being there for my kids. No matter what is going on in life, no matter how hard things can be, always making sure they know everything will be OK. I want to always make them feel safe and know that I will take care of them. Fatherhood means steering my kids in the right direction, teaching them life lessons, helping them understand that there is no perfect dad but that I will always do my best.
What is the best part of being a dad?
The best part of being a dad is hoping that I can make a difference in my children’s lives and they make a difference in mine. I also like knowing that I can teach them about life, love, charity, supporting others in a time of need, being disabled….there is so much to teach them. I love knowing how much I have to share with them and wonder what they will be able to share with me. I am becoming a better person because I have my children in my life.
What is your proudest moment as a dad?
The proudest moment was the day the kids were born.
What do you and your children do for fun?
Well, right now they are so young that there isn’t a whole lot to do, but they sit on my lap in my chair and we talk and laugh together. I like to try and make them smile; they are just learning to do that these past few weeks. I just love to spend time with my kids. Sometimes I ride them around the house to put them to sleep.
What is the hardest part about being a dad?
The hardest part about being a dad for me is being a disabled dad. It’s hard because I can’t pick up the kids when they are crying - I have to have someone help me with almost everything. When they get bigger they will be able to climb up into my lap, but right now they are four months old and I need someone to help me with a lot of things.
I made a device for my hand recently that holds a bottle so that I can feed the kids. I love that time together with them, they just look at me and I look at them. I love them so much.
What kind of dad do you strive to be?
I strive to be a patient and understanding dad. I also want to be very involved in everything the kids are doing whether that’s baseball, ballet or whatever interests them. I just always want to be there for them no matter what.
Describe your funniest moment as a dad.
So far the funniest moment as a dad has been hearing my son pass gas at night over the monitor. He has a lot of gas!
What would you hope that your kids would say about you if asked what kind of a dad they have?
I hope they would say that I am the best dad I can be - especially being disabled - and that I love them a lot. I hope they’d say I am always there for them when they need to talk or to cry.
What is the most important piece of advice you’ve received about fatherhood?
That 90 percent of being a good dad is just being there, being present in their lives.
What would you consider to be your most inspiring moment as a dad?
The most inspiring moment as a dad was watching my kids grow from being born at 29 weeks at less than 3 pounds each to now where they are about 10 pounds each and are home from the hospital. It was inspiring to watch them fight from the beginning and they hit so many milestones faster than we ever expected.
Both kids had so many health problems that were similar to mine when I was injured and they overcame them, too. They were on ventilators, had chest tubes, were on oxygen…it was all so similar and they overcame everything like I did. My kids are both fighters like their parents and I loved realizing that so early in their lives.
to learn more about Matt and Tracy Keil's inspiring story.