I remember each day like it was yesterday; they were three of the best days of my life. The birth of my my three children were monumental occurrences for me, making me see life through different lenses. As I saw them scream the instant they arrived, an uncanny sense of warmth and joy flowed through my soul. Here were little bodies entrusted to me, from me & of me. Each child was different, but the feeling was the same. Nothing can replace the smorgasbord of feelings a father feels that day. Joy, uncertainty, fear, happiness, worry, exuberance and strangely, a peace. It sounds difficult to feel all those things at once, but it’s true – one feels each emotion throughout the process & then all at once. The peace comes last when you think to yourself, I got this! Then you watch in anticipation as these offspring begin to grow. Their first steps, their first words. Ah, when you first hear “papi or daddy” come out their mouths, wow – that may have been the ultimate. I remember feeling such a sense of unconditional love for them, I would sing and hold them constantly. I paraded them around everywhere, proud dad all the way. When they first go to school and you see the apprehension in their faces as they are walked away that first day, tears well up in your eyes, but you know they will be fine; their MY kids, why wouldn’t they be you think to yourself. As they begin to make friends, play team sports or perform in school productions, you continuously try to formulate a plan to make sure they have ample opportunity to thrive, putting rules & responsibilities in place so they can begin to understand what life is and will be about. I used to drop what I called “Daddy Jewels” to them all the time, little sayings or life lessons for them to better understand what was going on around them You do these things hoping one they they remember at least some of them, and when they come to you and say something happened and they reacted to it remembering something I may have told them, well the emotion I felt is indescribable. The pre teen years are the best, because their innocence is prevalent. A father can sit, hug, talk and kiss them all he wants unencumbered. They actually embrace it, coming up to you unannounced to just cuddle or show you something they may have done, for your approval. Those are the best of times; when you leave the house for anything, they actually want to come with you and when you come home, they are waiting with open arms. The smiles on their faces lighting up your heart like nothing else. Then the teenage years creep in and things begin to change. No one can really prepare you for these years as your children begin to change their ideas, attitudes and sometimes behaviors. Not all bad, not all good, just different. They go from asking your opinion to knowing it all. From listening to you and enjoying your company to earphones and never leaving their rooms. The opposite sex comes into their lives and all hell breaks loose. You try to help them navigate through these treacherous times, but sometimes, nothing you do seems to work. Things keep changing, almost daily with them. You start questioning your parenting; where did I go wrong, what happened to my little babies, you ask yourself. How could they not understand that no one loves them like you do and everything you tell them is for their own good. A sense of helplessness hits you & your heart sinks the first time you say to yourself, I don’t like my child right now. I remember dropping a few tears that day. I couldn’t believe I would ever feel that, but I did. I didn’t understand the emotion or how it could be. However, after some introspection, I realized one thing never changes, my unrelenting, unconditional love for them; that will always be a constant, never wavering. Throughout the disappointments, the disobedience, the awkward growth to adulthood, my love for them remains. I still get excited every time I hear from them or they share a goings on with me. I relish their successes and feel disheartened over their defeats. I root for them to make their way and try to let them know I am here for them always. Sometimes, it is difficult to let them fly on their own, to make mistakes and get hurt. But I have realized it is the only way. I have faith I have thought my children the right things and ultimately they will be fine. I look forward to their continued march to adulthood and all the trappings that comes with it; to their careers and ultimately their own families. An old proverb says, we give our children two things in life. We give them roots and then we give them wings. I have provided some deep roots, now I hope their wings take them far. I hope they know the one thing that will never change or be far is their father’s love.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.