Honey, I Think My Water Broke
Those were the words that started my day eight years ago today. Of course, I had been sick as a dog the night before, and in my doped-up-on-anti-nausea-medication-at-2:45-in-the-morning stupor, my first response to my very expectant wife was "That's nice, dear." Then the synapses connected. Any sign of illness disappeared in a heartbeat as I moved into hyper-project-manager mode. Of course, this was occurring 15 days before our scheduled due date. First children are statistically late. We hadn't packed our bags yet. And even worse for a quasi-techie guy like me... We didn't yet know how to use our new video camera (which explains why the first footage of our first child was shot in "night vision").
Nevertheless, Lauren Elizabeth was destined to arrive on December 2, 1999 at 6:53 AM. And my life has never been the same since. At that moment, I attained a new title: Dad. It's a role that is a work-in-progress. I've learned a lot in the past eight years, but it seems like the "education lab" remains open 24/7. We're on the cusp of adolescence. There are so many things to think about. I never feel like I've arrived, and I doubt I ever will. But that's a good thing in my book. Complacency and parenthood really don't go well together.
Sometimes, I feel like my children teach me much more than I teach them. We laugh and read and learn and hurt and cry and run and hug and create and giggle and whisper and shout and love. And we do it over and over again. We change the scenery and the mood and the characters and the plot... but the story's ending is always pretty happy. Parenting is a great work of art on an ever-changing and never-ending canvas. The only difference between parenting and painting is that the canvas can and does talk back. It's about give-and-take. Sometimes it's a win-win and other times it's a "Trust me; I'm doing this for your own good. Still other times, it's painful enough to say, "You need to make the decision, but I'll be there to help you if you need it."
I know people who have been parenting a lot longer than I have. They do it really darn well, and they make it look so easy. They look like they've never shed a tear over worry or uncertainty or inadequacy. I know that deep down somewhere there must be feelings of insecurity, but they don't show it. But then I get the perfect affirmation from my daughters to let me know that I must be doing something right: a hug and an "I love you, Daddy." And I think back to my wife's life-changing words at 2:45 in the morning eight years ago. And it feels good to be a parent.
(Happy Birthday, Lauren. Today was your big day, but you gave me the greatest gift of all.)