|"HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!"|
"No. Really? Can you believe we created THAT?" She will say. And, I'll say, "Yeah, I can believe it. I was in the room when she was conceived. I was the one going out at god awful hours of the night for nine months trying to find you odd food combinations. I was the one who cut the cord 5 seconds after she made her first appearance...."
"And?..." my wife will say.
"And..." I reply, "she's awesome. She's perfect. She's my little girl."
"But when did you know you were her Daddy?" My wife will ask.
And that's the more difficult question to answer, isn’t it?
You see, every dad is different. There are those who know from a very young age that they want to be a father, and to these men, fatherhood starts the second they find out their wives are pregnant. They read to their babies in the womb. They play music for their unborn child. They cup their hands around their wives' navels and scream "Hello there" and wait for a response (in kick form). Then there are other dads, men less prepared for their foray into fatherhood, who will forego all this, choosing instead to wait and see their child in the flesh before making funny faces and fools of themselves as they start speaking in a kind of baby-ease that makes the rest of us cringe. And, then there’s a third group- men who have no clue what to think. Should they hold the baby? Should they sit back and give it another day to see how they feel? Should they wait until the baby's asleep to make their first approach? These guys don't know what to feel.
Me, I fall in the middle. I always wanted to be a dad, but I held off as long as I could, mostly because I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle the responsibility. But, I guess you don't know the measure of a man, or what he's truly capable of, until he's faced with that which he fears the most. And, me, I feared fatherhood.
It's not that I didn't think I could change a diaper, or hold a baby (two things I had never done before having a child of my own), it's that I thought I could never be the father I wanted to have when I was a kid- an emotionally present one. Let's face it, I'm not sentimental; I'm not touchy/feely; I'm not warm and fuzzy- I'm pretty much emotionally shut off to the world except for a few select people that know me well enough to help me to drop my guard. In essence, I'm way more Mr. Spock than I am Captain Kirk, and who wants that for a father? But, I guess I don't know myself as well as I think I do?
And then it happened. That self-affirming aforementioned millisecond when my entire world changed for the better. That moment when all my fears of fatherhood fell by the wayside and calm came over me; a calm like I had never felt before. It was a giggle, or a cooing sound, or maybe it was gas? Who knows? But, MY child spoke to me in a way no one had ever spoken to me before. And she made more sense than anyone I had ever known. In those glassy little eyes, I found purpose. I found strength. I found... a lot of goo. But, I saw the world through them; a new world where I could be anything I wanted to be. And, I wanted to be her dad. And, right then and there, I was.
She gave me a whole new outlook, a whole new purpose, and all she wanted in return was the father she deserved; the father every child deserves…and I'll be damned if she doesn't get it.
I don’t make promises I can’t keep.